A few years ago, Bella absolutely destroyed my new loveseat. The back, sides, and arms were her go to place to scratch. Since starting Americat Company, I've learned a lot about cat behavior, and looking back, I simply hadn't given Bella enough scratching options.
Once our home had more scratching pads, Bella completely stopped scratching my loveseat. Recently, I bought 2 new couches and worried that since they were new, Bella might try to claim them as hers. Fortunately (knock on wood!), she continues to choose her scratching pads and has not touched the new couches. Good girl, Bella!
We recently wrote about cats' natural instinct to scratch and why cats often scratch furniture. Here we share 5 ways to get your cats to use their own scratching pads rather than your furniture:
1. Pick the Place
Place a scratching pad next to the furniture that your cat is scratching. Cats also like to stretch and scratch when they first wake up, so placing a pad near where they sleep is a good idea. Bella has this rectangular scratcher behind the loveseat and this heart-shaped scratcher near the window in the bedroom. Cats love novelty and a new, appealing surface designed for them may be all the enticing they need.
2. Get Their Attention
Call your cat over and dangle a toy. Make a scratching noise with your own nails on the scratcher, encouraging your cat to do the same. Gently rub their paws on the scratching pad to begin placing their scent on it. If your cat likes catnip, sprinkle some on top. Do this step daily as your cat gets used to the new scratching pad.
3. Use Positive Reinforcement
Once your cat checks out the new scratcher, show praise immediately. Penny and Bella love hearing their name in an excited voice, getting a treat, and a back rub.
4. Make the Couch Unappealing
Cats primarily choose a surface to scratch based on texture. Try covering any furniture your cat is scratching with a surface the cats don’t like (but is still safe) like double sided tape or aluminum foil. If your cat scratches the furniture, say no or clap loudly. Never use your cat's name when correcting behavior, only when reinforcing positive behavior. Take your cat to the new scratching pad and repeat the two steps above.
5. Provide Options
You like to hangout in multiple rooms, and so does your cat. Place scratching pads throughout your home in the areas where your cats likes to hangout, so they have different scratching options nearby. Penny and Bella's scratching pads are by a sunny window, in the great room, in my office, and where they nap.
While scratching furniture can be frustrating, it is important to be patient and understand that you are trying to modify a behavior. Now that Penny and Bella have their own cat scratchers in multiple rooms, they don’t touch my loveseat or new couches. Bella even runs to scratch her scratcher out of excitement when I come home. I think she knows that it’s hers, and because of that likes it even better than my furniture. Americat Company scratchers have helped all of us!