Q. My cat continues to scratch on furniture and carpets. He has plenty of scratching posts around the house. Please help!
DANA KOCH, VMD, MLAS
A. Scratching is a natural behavior in cats that can be frequently frustrating for pet owners who want to keep their furniture from being shredded on a constant basis. The texture of furniture and carpet is very appealing to cats and this why they frequently choose to spend their time on this activity as opposed to playing with their own cat toys. Here are some suggestions to help curb this unwanted behavior:
1. Purchase a cat scratching post or cat tree that is covered in carpeted or textured material. Place it in an appealing spot that your cat would be inclined to spend time (eg. in the sun). You can also place catnip on the scratching post or cat tree to make your cat even more interested in the new object.
2. You can utilize double sided tape on the ends of the furniture because you cat will not like the sticky feeling and will learn to not scratch in that region. Use the tape that has a lighter adhesive in order to prevent any permanent damage. Other materials, such as aluminum foil or bubble wrap can also be placed on the furniture to discourage the scratching.
3. Keep nails trimmed short by either learning to do this on your own at home or using a veterinary technician, or groomer. Nails can usually be trimmed every 6-8 weeks.
4. Redirect the unwanted behavior. If your cat begins scratching, use a favorite or new toy to distract the cat from the scratching. Give your cat positive praise for not scratching.
5. As a last resort you can use a spray bottle full of water to spritz your cat when he or she is scratching inappropriately at your furniture. Generally, cats do not like water and this will discourage them from continuing the behavior.
Have patience with your cat because it can takes time to understand this is an unwanted behavior and that furniture is not another toy for them to use. You can always consult your veterinary or veterinary behaviorist to help with ideas or further solutions to this problem.