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Inappropriate Cat Scratching

What to do and how to prevent it

A couch that used to be great, now with scratched corners and dangling fabric… All those who’ve served or serve a cat are aware of this scenario!  Scratching, however, is a natural and needed behavior for cats.  In fact, most behaviors in cats that we may deem inappropriate, are normal behaviors for a cat.  Cats have no idea that we have designated some things to be appropriate behavior and some things to be inappropriate. They’re just doing what they do… Normal cat things.

Cats scratch for several reasons and they are very legitimate cat reasons. A cat will scratch on things in order to remove the dead outer layer of their front claws, they scratch for exercise and to stretch their back, their legs and their paws like we would stretch our arms after waking, and they scratch to mark things visually and to deposit their scent.  Cats are very scent oriented and have multiple locations for scent glands, including the bottom of their paws.  Marking has different purposes and cats will do it for different reasons, but when your cat is kneading something, or you, he is most likely marking, depositing his scent to notify others that what he has marked is his.

Now that we’ve discussed the actual reasons for scratching, let’s take a look at what might be the cause of what we consider to be inappropriate scratching.  First, take a look around at the ‘catification’ that exists at your house.  This means things like cat tree’s, scratching posts, cat beds and toys to name a few.  Having nothing else for your cat to stretch out on or to remove his dead claws can account for some of the furniture scratching many people see. With this being said, it’s very important to be sure you have enough cat appropriate items throughout the house for your cat to utilize when it comes to his need for scratching. 

Some people might say that they don’t want to have a bunch of ‘cat’ things all over the house.  This is like having a child but not wanting kid things all over… If you have a cat, you Need cat things, unless you’re ok with your couch and other furniture becoming cat things.  Luckily, these days there are so many modern cat accessories available that a cat can use, and that will fit right into the home and look very stylish!!  Here’s just one example to show you so you understand that cat things don’t have to look like cheesy cat things! Some of the modern cat accessories can really look more like art, or a room accessory, which is great!  Also, if you google Ikea cat hacks, you’ll find some cute creative ideas to make some modern looking cat furniture for your home that your cat will absolutely love!

Suggestion: If you have a kitten the best thing to do is to get catified as soon as possible!  That way your kitten will grow up learning and knowing to use ‘his’ furniture rather than yours.  Cats need to stretch, mark and shed his claws so having things that are theirs that they can do this with is the best preventative you can have!  If you have a cat (not a kitten) and are lacking catification in your house, get yourself set up with a few staples right away so that you can start showing your cat what should be used for scratching instead of your furniture!  There are also some things you can get to protect your furniture in while you show your cat how to his his new stuff (!  These furniture protectors can be used when transitioning your cat from your furniture to cat appropriate furniture! 

When transitioning your cat from your furniture to his, never yell or punish him.  Remember, he’s only doing what cats need to do and might get confused and/or feel threatened, causing him to feel as though he needs to start ‘marking’ your furniture with his paw scent by clawing more.  It’s important to know that even declawed cats will use scratching posts, because what they’re doing is a natural cat activity.  And declawing should never be used to save furniture.  Declawing is misnamed, as when a cat is declawed the first knuckle of their paws are literally cut off.  It’s an amputation procedure and this in itself can cause a number of other problems for you and your cat, including infection, problems walking, personality change and biting.  We’ll cover more on declawing in one of our upcoming weekly write ups.  

Try sprinkling or rubbing catnip on the new cat scratcher you've acquired to encourage your cat to use his new furniture instead of yours.  If he does try to go back to the couch or other 'off limits' furniture of yours, gently pick him up or distract him with a wand toy and bring him back to his new scratching post!  Once there, praise him, pet him and make sure he knows he's a good cat!  he should catch on, but it may take some time depending on how long he's been going on with your furniture. You still may want to cover the corners or areas that has taken to on your furniture using the corner protectors mentioned above, that way his old spots on your furniture is no longer appealing to him. 


Now if your cat is scratching up your furniture to mark out of insecurity, the catification you bring in can also help with that, too!  Giving them something that is ‘Theirs’ that they can claim using their claw/paw marking can help them feel more secure with their surroundings.  If your cat is experiencing insecurities and this is the cause of scratching furniture, there are other things you can get to bring a feeling of ownership to him, like soft cozy beds, cat tree’s or even shelves cleared for your cat or added to a few walls that he can call his own!  Insecurities can be deeper than what you see on the surface, but catifying your home is a great place to start.  If you have more than one cat, make sure there are plenty of cat accessories and furniture for all cats in the house! This is important because cats are and can be very territorial, and one cat tree with 3 cats might not be enough to satisfy any territorial issues your cats may be having.

To recap, the most important thing you can to do to either start the process of moving your cat away from your furniture or prevent this problem in the first place is to catify your home so that there are plenty of things for you cat to call his and claim as his own! 

As always, if you have any questions, please contact us via email.  We’d love to help if we can!


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