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What To Do About A Cat Scratching Furniture

 by petbucket on 14 Jan 2016 |
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Cats may be the most popular kind of pet in the world, beloved for their companionship and antics. Unfortunately, a common issue that arises from owning a cat is destruction of furniture. A cat's claws need maintenance, and they do this by scratching. In the wild, feline ancestors would use tree bark for this. In the home, they need replacements of some kind, and furniture often comes under attack as a result. There are ways to prevent or change this behavior, and here are some of the best ideas for protecting your furniture from a cat's claws.
 
Ensure An Alternative
 
As mentioned, a cat needs to maintain her claws. They do not scratch out of malice but out of necessity. Though they are not 'sharpening' their claws, they do need to shed the nail sheaths. Such activities also help mark territory, as they deposit scents on the object. Scratching is also good exercise, helping the cat to stretch almost like a yoga routine.
 
A cat does not have the choice to not scratch. This means that you have to provide alternatives to the furniture. The scratching post is the obvious one, but scratching beds are great as well. They can also enjoy thick ropes, tree branches, and similar things. It is best to provide many pieces of cat furniture, especially if you have several cats. You should still provide such scratching furniture if the cats may go outside.
 
Help the Cat Understand the Alternative
 
Cats are famous as creatures of habit and these habits can be hard to break. Some will instinctively use the provided scratching posts. Some will need to be shown where it is and what it is for. It can help to place the new scratching post near the furniture you wish to protect. You may also show the cat what it is for by taking her forepaws and gently rubbing them against the post -- she will often get the idea. You can then move the post by degrees to the desired location.
 
Encourage your cat with praise, petting, and treats when they use the proper places to scratch. Cats are stubborn creatures who respond better to the carrot than the stick. Rewarding them for good behavior is effective. Punishment for bad behavior rarely works.
 
Discouraging Scratching
 
One of the quirks of cat behavior is that they understand the world in a different way from humans. A cat will identify that a person has sprayed them with water, for example. But they will not learn that the behavior is bad. Instead they will learn to do it when they won't get caught. On the other hand, if a cat thinks she has been punished by 'the universe' in general, she is more likely to stop. This makes it more effective to set up a trap of sorts.
 
You can still discourage the behavior somewhat by squirting a cat with a water gun or a gardening spray can. However, it is more effective to use a motion-sensing air can and place it next to the object you wish to protect. These are available for a low price. When the cat approaches, the sensor will see them, and a harmless puff of air will be blasted at them. This will cause great surprise and usually a hasty retreat. And because it is something that 'just happens', the cat should soon learn not to attempt to scratch.
 
Armoring the Furniture
 
You can protect your furniture in a couple of other ways as well. A plastic cover of some sort will prevent damage while you help your cat adjust. You can also apply double-sided sticky tape to the furniture. Most cats strongly dislike the sensation of stickiness on their paws. This will lead them to seek other places to scratch, which you should have provided for them.
 
Claw Caps
 
If your cat proves determined to scratch the furniture no matter what, there is another option. Claw caps are small plastic covers which are affixed to the pet's front claws with the use of special glue. Usually you would trim the cat's nails (always be careful to avoid the quick of the nail!) before applying them. These soft objects ensure she cannot harm the furniture or indeed your skin but do no harm to her. The claw caps will fall off in time so be vigilant for when they need replacement.
 
Avoid Declawing
 
Declawing cats used to be a popular way to protect furniture, but it has begun to fall out of favor in recent years. This is because it is now often regarded as a cruel and mutilating procedure. The operation is the same as removing a human's fingers from the middle knuckles. It does far more than just taking away their claws. It can lead to psychological distress, an inability to defend herself against other animals, and chronic pain. Declawing leads to much more misbehavior than it prevents. In many countries the procedure is banned except where a vet deems it necessary for the cat's own health.
 
No matter how bad your cat's scratching might be, they should never be subjected to this procedure. There are always alternative ways to change their behavior.  So no matter how bad your cat's scratching might be, they should never be subjected to this procedure. There are always alternative ways to change their behavior.
 
Remember that your cats are unique, living beings. They have their own mannerisms and habits, and changing these takes time and effort. Use gentility and encouragement to help them learn what you do want them to do instead of trying to teach them what you do not want them to do. You can also use various things like spray bottles and claw covers to help protect your furniture while you and your pet work on their furniture scratching. As long as you are patient and caring, your cat will soon come to learn what to use for their claw care.

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