Does your cat scratch everything around the house? In this article, Yummypets will give you a few tips to encourage your cat to stop doing this.
Why does my cat scratch everything?
First of all, it is important to know that cats need to scratch. If your cat ruins your wallpaper or couch, it is first and foremost because they need to wear down and sharpen their claws.
It is also a way for them to communicate. For example, cats have glands that secrete pheromones in between their paw pads. These glands allow them to leave their odor around the house.
When a cat scratches, whether it be on a tree or on a piece of furniture, it is also because they are marking their territory. They are doing this both olfactorily and visually.
In addition, scratching allows cats to get rid of dead claws so that new ones can grow.
However, if your cat has made it a habit of ruining your belongings, it is best to react quickly before it becomes a daily activity. Unfortunately, it is rather difficult to change a cat's behavior once the habit is already deeply ingrained. Luckily, there are techniques and tips that can remedy this.
What should I do if my cat scratches everything?
Has your cat been scratching your belongings more regularly? To remedy this situation, you need to divert their attention. You can do this by providing them with objects that they can scratch. This can be a simple scratching post or a cat tree. Sometimes, a log or a square of carpet against a wall will also do the trick.
You can test out different objects to find out what kind of objects your cat prefers. Ideally, it is best to have several different things around the house for your cat to scratch.
For your cat to get used to scratching these things instead of your belongings, the objects need to be placed in a place of passage or close to a window. Cats need to mark their territory in visible and accessible areas in the house. This allows them to show others that the area belongs to them. That is why the objects need to be placed in strategic areas. If your cat does not go to them on their own or if they do not seem to understand that they can scratch there, show them. Do not hesitate to take their paws and scratch them against a zone where they can scratch. A slight pressure on the edge of their paws will make them automatically show their claws.
You can also use catnip-scented sprays to encourage your cat to go to the area more naturally. During this adaptation period, it is best to hide your cat's scratch marks on your furniture (with blankets or sheets, for example). Cats use their sight and sense of smell to scratch. They are, therefore, tempted to return to places where their scratch marks are visible.
If your cat continues to scratch everywhere...
If your cat is still reluctant to scratch other areas, you will need to take your training a step further. To do this, if you see your cat scratching your belongings, say "no" firmly. You can also try using a spray bottle, which cats do not appreciate at all.
If your cat continues to scratch the couch, to keep them away, there are sprays that are sold in pet stores or at vet clinics. These sprays leave pheromones that discourage your cat from continuing. Also, the smell of cloves or orange can sometimes keep them away.
For emergencies, and if the aesthetics of your living room are not a priority, you can always stick double-sided adhesive paper on the area (cats don't like sticky surfaces). You can also place aluminum foil where they typically scratch because they do not like the feel or the sound that it makes when they scratch it.
In addition, do not forget to trim your cat's claws regularly if they live indoors. You can do it at home with a nail clipper that is specifically made for cats. However, be careful to not cut the pink part of the claw where their blood vessels are. Cat paws are particularly sensitive and there is a risk of excessive bleeding and lasting damage.
If you have never seen trimmed a cat's claws before, it could be a good idea to trim your cat's claws in the company of your vet who will be able to show you how to trim your cat's claws safely.
How do I choose the right cat tree?
It is important that your cat has a play area where they can let loose their feline instincts.
Keep in mind that a good cat tree should meet this criteria:
- It should be at least 1 meter (≈ 3 feet) high, so that your cat can stretch out.
- It should be stable enough so that your cat can jump on it without it falling apart or falling (a large base without too many extra platforms on the sides). Also, it should be robust enough to not fall apart in just a few weeks.
- It should have several places to scratch and at least one hiding place.
- It should have several platforms with a large enough and comfortable space for your cat to feel at ease.
If you cannot find a cat tree that pleases you at pet stores or on specialized websites, you can try to make your own cat tree! Often, this is less expensive and allows you to give your furry friend a unique gift.
Originally written in French by Joséphine Boudoux (Yummypets) and translated by Jennifer Eubank (Yummypets).
Does your cat scratch your furniture?