One of the most common problems that cat companions have is a cat or cats who scratch furniture, wallpaper, curtains, carpets and sometimes even people. Some people think cats scratch things out of spite but that’s not the case. It’s natural for cats to scratch. They do it to shed the outer part of their claws. They also scratch to scent their territory. Cats have scent glands in their paws that they use to let other cats know where they should not go.
Providing scratching posts is the best way to make sure that your cat doesn’t scratch up your possessions. There are dozens of different kinds of scratching posts available in many different material. You can make your own too. You don’t have to spend a fortune on scratching posts but you do need to provide something that your cat can scratch on.
If your cat won’t use the scratching posts you have bought try spraying them with catnip spray. Sometimes they need a little encouragement to start scratching but once they get started they will be happy to have something to scratch they can really dig into. If you have bought scratching posts that are vertical and your cats have not used them try some of the horizontal wave shaped scratchers. It may simply be that your cat prefers those to the vertical sisal rope or carpet covered posts.
If your cat does use scratching posts but still scratched your couch, carpets and other possessions there are things you can do to discourage your cat from scratching anything other than the scratching posts. Try using some of these tips to let your cat know that your couch and carpets and other possessions are not just really big scratching posts:
Double sided tape: This is one of the cheapest and easiest methods to discourage inappropriate scratching. Buy a roll of clear double sided tape, sometimes called dressmaker’s tape because it’s what women use on clothing to hide bra straps and fix other problems. Put the tape wherever the cat is scratching. The cat will go to scratch and get stuck to the item briefly. Cats hate anything sticky, so they will learn very quickly to avoid that item. Eventually you won’t even need the tape. They will automatically avoid that piece of furniture or patch of carpet because they associate it with sticky paws.
Citrus spray: Another alternative to get a cat to stop scratching is to use a citrus spray on the item that you want the cat to avoid. Cats hate citrus smells, so you can mix some citrus essential oils in a spray bottle with some water and spray that where you want the cat to avoid. Or you can buy a commercial citrus spray that will keep your cat away from a particular area. You also can make a sachet filled with orange and lemon rinds and use that. If the cat is scratching a couch or a chair leaving the sachet tucked under a seat will discourage scratching.
Nail caps: Nail caps are a fantastic solution to a cat that scratches everything in sight. There are several different brands but they are all basically the same. They are small plastic sheaths shaped like a cat’s claw that are glued to the cat’s claws using a glue similar to eyelash glue. They come in many different fun colors. You can apply them at home yourself if your cat is good about having his or her feet handled. If not you can take them to a groomer or to your vet and for a small fee they will apply them. The caps fall off about every six weeks as the cat’s claws grow. When they fall off you just need to trim the cat’s nails and then apply a new set of caps. With the caps on the cat can still perform a scratching motion and mark territory but there is no damage. Nail caps are great for renters who don’t want to get stuck with bills for damaged carpets or blinds.
Sonya L is a writer, Army wife, and proud cat lady who is a companion to seven rescue cats. She lives with her husband and cat tribe in Augusta, GA.