If there is one habit that annoys cat owners about their furry felines, it must be their busy claws. Cats scratch. It’s what they do. It’s more than just exercising their claws. Scratching helps remove the dead outer layer of their claws and also allows them to mark their territory and stretch out their legs. Scratching is also a stress-reliever for cats. Cats do NOT scratch your belongings to get back at you or to willingly be destructive. However, their scratching can wreak havoc on your home. Fortunately, there are ways to lessen the damage and redirect your pet’s need to scratch that will save your sofa and still allow Fluffy to exercise her claws. The alternative would be declawing, which is a major surgery for your cat and cruel. Declawing essentially removes part of the toe and maims the animal for life.
Scratching posts are best for Fluffy only if they are tall enough. They allow the cat to stretch its entire body as it reaches for the top. The post below originally came wrapped in some kind of rope, which didn’t last. Cats can get their claws stuck in rope as it begins to fall apart. Eventually, we removed the rope and replaced it with a piece of short-napped carpet and Chico loves it! He can stretch out his entire body as he works his claws on it, and it is strong enough to remain upright when the big cat attacks it.
We also keep several scratching boxes around the house. These boxes are very inexpensive (under $5 at Big Lots and other discount stores) and a good alternative to a vertical post. Our smaller kitty, Lucy, prefers the boxes. Yes, they are messy but the cardboard that is scratched off easily vacuums up. I place boxes beside an upholstered chair and by each end of the new sofa. Neither cat has ever tried to scratch the furniture, and they did so on a regular basis with the old pieces.
With both the posts and the boxes, it helps to add catnip. We use the spray version on the vertical post covered in carpet and sprinkle a bit of catnip around the base to attract the kitties. Regular catnip is very appealing when sprinkled on the cardboard boxes and both of our cats will roll around on them.
We tried cat deterrent sprays but for various reasons, they didn’t help. Our new furniture has a stain repellent on both pieces, and I found that the cat deterrent would not adhere to it. Nor would double-sided carpet tape. Many people use the tape, because most felines detest having their claws touch the sticky tape. It works as a good trainer, if it will stay on your upholstered furniture. Some cat owners prefer to apply the artificial nails, or nail caps, that glue onto the animal’s own claws but don’t have sharp ends like a real nail. You can purchase those at most pet supply retailers.
Finally, offer a treat to your cat when he or she uses the scratching box or post. She will learn to associate that activity with something good to follow.