Scratching is a normal, natural and important behavior for cats. Since our goal is not to get your cat to stop scratching we will find appropriate objects for your cats to scratch so you can both be happy.
Why does my cat scratch?
Cats scratch to mark their territory – their paws leave both a visual and a scent mark. It also removes the dead outer layer of their claws and provides them with an outlet to stretch their body, flex their little paws and work off some energy.
Your cat must have access to an appealing scratcher before you can expect them to leave your couch alone. This is part negotiation and you are going to have to offer your cat something good in return for them following your silly human rules. Observe the inappropriate objects your cat is currently scratching: are they tall, horizontal, vertical, what material are they made of? These are good starting points when looking for a pleasing scratching alternative for your cat.
Once you have located a suitable scratching post (or whatever object you find), you can begin negotiations with your cat. Place the scratching posts near the inappropriate objects your cat is currently using – be sure they have a stable base and won’t fall down when your cat tries to use it, you only want positive associations with the scratching post so you don’t want it falling on your cat. You may need to jazz up the scratching post with some catnip or treats to grab your cat’s attention.
Temporarily cover places you don’t want your cat to scratch with something like double sided tape, aluminum foil or an odor based repellant such as citrus or citronella.
Don’t take the deterrents away until your cat is reliably using their scratching post. You can start moving the scratcher further away from the initial spot by a few inches a day if you do not want to keep the scratcher next to your couch.
Be sure to replace scratching posts once they have worn down, you don’t want your cat getting bored and seeking out some place new.
Tip: if your cat likes scratching vertical surfaces, offer a scratching post that is tall enough for them to stand on their back legs and still be able to stretch and scratch with the front legs – they love it!