Cat Scratching

Cat Scratch Fever?

You love your cat. You also love your new expensive couch. Unfortunately you've found your cat also loves your new couch, but in a different way... she loves shredding it with her claws! So can your cat and couch live peacefully in the same house? Yes, they can!

If you have a furniture shredding cat, you've probably already learned that scolding has little effect. That's because a cat has to scratch. Cats scratching serves a few purposes; To mark territory using the scent glands in their feet, to remove the outer layer of their nails, and to stretch their bodies and feet. Since it's a natural behavior, it's unlikely one will be very successful stopping it completely. The key is to direct your cat to an acceptable scratching station instead of your furniture.

The first step is to figure out your cats preferred scratching medium. Is it tall, short, vertical, horizontal, rough, or soft? Then find a similar item that your cat is allowed to scratch on. This can be a scratching post covered with carpet or rope, a log, corrugated cardboard, a flat piece of wood covered with carpet, etc. You may find your cat likes different textures or both vertical & horizontal items. In this case, more than one scratching area may be necessary. When buying a vertical post you may have better luck going with a taller post since many cats prefer to stretch the full length of their bodies while scratching. Shorter posts that don't allow a full stretch may never be used.

Place the new item near the inappropriate item and make sure it is stable enough that it won't fall over when your cat uses it. Rubbing the new item with catnip will also make it more appealing to your cat.

The next step is to make the inappropriate item unappealing to your cat. Using a covering that makes it uncomfortable to scratch on works best. Aluminum foil, double sided tape, and plastic carpet runner (nobby side up) are all great coverings. You can also try using unappealing scents, such as listerine, perfume, or muscle rub. Apply these scents to cotton balls or a cloth and pin it to the inappropriate item (don't put directly on the item to avoid stains). Since these strong odors can also make nearby objects unappealing, including the new acceptable post, use them in moderation and only if the coverings prove ineffective on their own.

If you've chosen an appealing substitute your cat should start using the new post quickly. Keep all coverings on the inappropriate items until your cat is using the new post exclusively. When you're ready to remove the coverings, do it in stages and not all at once. Should your cat revert back to the inappropriate item, put the coverings back and try again. Remember this is a gradual process. It can take a few weeks for your cat to get used to using the new item. With a little observation and a little patience, your cat and your new couch should live in harmony making everyone much happier!


Written by Jill Richards. She is the owner of HaveLeash, Will Travel, an Aurora, CO pet sitting service, and US Pet Pros, a supply company for pet .