Many people are agonized by a common occurrence in many households: a cat that scratches furniture incessantly, even after repeated correction. Cats possess an instinctive need to scratch surfaces, and sooner or later, they locate some physical surface in the household to scratch for this very purpose.
Sometimes, however, cats avoid the scratching post, in favor of a valued piece of furniture instead. Generally speaking, if your cat systematically destroys a new, expensive piece of furniture, this will cause an immense amount of stress for you.
There are ways in which you can discourage this behavior in favor of more positive behaviors. In terms of what to do and what not to do, cats do not learn from punishment. Reinforcing a punishment will not correct your cat’s behavior, but rather, allow it to persist.
Reward Desired Behavior
Cats can only learn from positive reinforcement, not from punishment. If you have a cat, a scratching post is an absolute necessity, even if your cat currently avoids the scratching post.
Scratching posts come in many shapes and sizes, including small tablets, imitation trees, tunnels and much more. However, it is highly important that you begin with a modestly sized scratching post first. This will allow you to determine if that particular brand of scratching post suits your cat’s needs.
But regardless of what happens, you can train your cat to use the scratching post, and to avoid furniture. One of the most common means of doing this is through the use of catnip spray. This will magnetize your cat to the scratching post instead of the furniture. But, remember, cats learn through praise and positive reinforcement. Therefore, whenever you observe your cat doing the right thing, praise her or provide a treat.
Most likely, even if your cat feels drawn to the scratching post, he/she will attempt to use furniture as a scratching post, as well. For this reason try to apply double sided tape to the area that your cat scratches most in order to discourage this behavior or for the most part. There are also animal-safe sprays that are designed to repel cats from a specific region or piece of furniture, as well. Therefore, do all that you can to reward your cat for using the scratching post, to discourage him/her from using other pieces of furniture.
Do Not Cut Claws
The aforementioned tips discuss measures that you can take to discourage your cat from scratching furniture, in favor of a more desired behavior. Of course, many people settle for alternative measures in order to meet their own demands and achieve a more favorable results. Never have your feline’s claws trimmed. This is exceedingly cruel and it can actually exact a host of painful symptoms for your cat. Cats scratch by nature and depriving them of this right is just inconsiderate.
Trimming your cat’s claws can also impact their ability to function outdoors, which may entail climbing trees, escaping from angry predators, etc. Furthermore, cat claw trimming must be done routinely because of the fast nail growth that cats experience.
If this method seems too extreme, then you may consider applying vinyl caps to your cat’s claws instead. This will prevent your cat from cause extensive damage to your furniture and upholstery. For example “soft claws” are a brand of vinyl claws that were invested to prevent these situations. They are sold in a number of different colors and styles and they are highly effective at discouraging or preventing the damage associated wit hthis behavior.
And of course, you should never declaw a cat because this is one of the most inhumane tactics that you can use against your cat. This would entail the surgical removal of your cat’s claws, which could culminate in a painful healing period, along with a number of different side effects, as well. Cats rely extensively on their claws in order to land, balance themselves, and walk, as well. Many countries legally prohibit these surgeries, and for a justifiable reason. Some vets consider this to be a viable alternative to euthanasia, but it is discouraged nonetheless.
Training Your Cats
Using the following methods, you can actually train your cat to adopt the desired behavior.
The first step entails using a clicker to associate a click with treats or praise. Once your cat makes the association, you can move on to the next step. The second step entails applying catnip spray to the scratching post that you are interested in training them to use. The third step involves applying double stick tape or a repulsive spray to the furniture you wish to protect. Whenever your cat uses the scratching post as intended, use the clicker until they begin to make the connection, and provide them with snacks or praise afterward.