Protect Your Furniture From Your Cat’s Claws
We all know and fear that dreadful sound of a cat’s nails ripping away at a piece of furniture. If you have a feline roommate, chances are that it shows on your sofa or rug. The thing is, you can’t really stop a cat from scratching. Cats need to scratch, and you couldn’t stop them if you tried. The best and healthiest way to stop your cat from scratching furniture, is to supply plenty of alternatives. Placing the right scratching post in the right place will save your furniture from claw marks, without compromising your cat’s health and happiness.
So, how can you keep your cat from scratching furniture?
Whatever You Do, Don’t Declaw!
Declawing is literally amputating your cat’s paws. It is an irreversible surgical operation, during which a third(!) of the cat’s paw is removed up to the first joint. It can cause serious damage to a cat, from chronic pain to physical imbalance and behavioral problems. Scratching is a natural and essential act for cats, and declawing goes against the cat’s nature. Not only is it inhumane, unnatural and painful, it literally takes away the cat’s ability to defend herself, robbing her of her sense of control and security.
Why Do Cats Scratch?
Scratching is an instinctive act that cats perform for several reasons:
- Cats scratch to mark territory, both visually and by secreting a scent. Visual marks and scent are both strong territory marking methods. Cats have glands on their paws that secrete odor while clawing. This territorial behavior explains why cats usually scratch in places that are visible to other house members, such as the sofa’s arms or your living room carpet. Marking territory is an important means of communication, even if your cat is an only furry child.
- Scratching helps cats remove the outer layer of their claws. A cat’s nails are made up of layers. The outer layer of dead cells needs to be removed occasionally, to allow nail growth. Maintaining sharp and healthy claws is important for a cat’s sense of security, as it is a crucial defense mechanism – especially if your cat goes outside.
- Scratching is a great exercise. It allows cats to stretch out and strengthen their upper bodies, from their paws down to their back. This also helps them relax: I know I always feel refreshed and rejuvenated after a good stretching session!
Understanding why cats scratch teaches us that not only is scratching perfectly natural, it is actually essential for your cat’s health and happiness. You can now use this knowledge to help you choose the best scratching post for your cat and stop her from scratching the furniture.
The Importance of Placing Multiple Scratching Posts and Pads Around the House
We already know that scratching posts are a must-have in any healthy cat residency. As I mentioned before, cats prefer scratching areas that are visible in the house. If you want your cat to stop scratching your furniture – you must place scratch-worthy alternatives nearby. The more scratchy items you place around your house – the less damage your other furniture would endure.
What If Your Cat Already Has a Scratcher But Prefers the Sofa?
New cat toys and accessories don’t always gain instantaneous approval. If you already have a cat scratcher at home that your cat doesn’t use, don’t throw it out right away. There are a few techniques you can try to direct her scratching to the appropriate item.
- Try luring your cat to use the scratcher by using a toy. Play with a feather toy or anything attached to a string or wand in front of the scratcher. Your cat may claw it while playing, rediscovering the fun in scratching it. Give your cat a treat whenever she scratches the post for reassurance.
- Some cats are indifferent to catnip, but if that’s not the case with your cat – try sprinkling or spraying catnip on the scratching post or pad. The scent will attract your cat, and double the enjoyment.
- Is the scratcher positioned in a noticeable place? Remember that cats scratch to mark territory. Try moving it to a more noticeable area, placing it near something that your cat already tries to scratch.
Protect your furniture
If those methods don’t stop your cat from scratching other furniture around the house, try limiting her access to those furniture. Remember that you’ll still need to supply a worthy alternative – so place a scratcher nearby, while trying one of the following methods:
- Cover the furniture with a plastic sheet or aluminium foil, or apply sticky tape. That way, when your cat will go for the furniture, she will find it unattractive due to its covering surface, and move on to the nearby cat scratcher. In time, she will get used to the scratcher and you will be able to remove the scratch proof cover from the surrounding furniture.
- Use a natural, pet safe anti-scratch spray on the furniture you want to protect. Citrus scented spray will do the job, cats usually avoid this scent.
If all that fails and your cat refuses to use the scratching post, it’s possible that it just isn’t good enough for your cat. It might be too small or unstable, or the material can be unsatisfying to scratch. Just make sure that the next cat scratcher you get suits your cat’s needs. Keep reading to find out how!
Cat scratchers for large cats:
What to Look For When Buying a Cat Scratcher
Cat furniture makers really go out of their way to come up with modern, original designs. However, when purchasing a new piece of furniture for your cat, it’s important to remember that it’s supposed to serve a purpose other than looking good next to your mid-century daybed. In the next few paragraphs I will point out some factors to consider when searching for the best scratching post for your cat.
Cat Scratching Materials
Cat scratching furniture are usually made of a firm base, and a scratchable area that is either inserted into or wrapped around the base. The scratchable material is crucial, as it dictates most of the scratching experience. Here are the most popular materials that are used for cat scratching furniture:
Sisal rope and sisal fabric
These are probably the most popular materials used for cat scratching furniture. Sisal is a species of Agave, a succulent originated in Mexico. It produces a hard fiber – which can be used to make a rope or sheets of hard fabric. Sisal is very durable, deeming it a great material for cat scratching.
Things to consider:
- Look at the direction of the sheet or rope: does it allow for horizontal or vertical scratching? Sisal rope that is wrapped around a pole usually doesn’t allow for smooth, continuous scratching (although it could be more comfortable for climbing). Will your cat be satisfied with scratching that? Perhaps she would prefer scratching a sisal sheet rather than rope.
- What is the density or coarseness of the material? Your cat’s claws can get stuck easily if the material is too coarse. Prefer materials that will allow for smoother scratching, yet are not too soft.
- Sisal cat furniture usually don’t come in a large variety of colors (at least not for the scratchable area). Does the natural, rustic look of a sisal scratching furniture suit your space?
- Cheap sisal rope is often treated with toxic chemicals that can be harmful to your cat and yourself. High quality cat furniture manufacturers will not compromise on cheap materials. However, if you are a DIY lover and you want to make your own cat scratching post, be sure to purchase a quality sisal rope or fabric that doesn’t contain toxins.
- Sisal is a natural material, sustainable and eco-friendly (as long as it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals, of course). This is a huge plus in my opinion! Stay environment friendly!
Corrugated cardboard is great not only for scratching, but for shredding as well – which can be extremely enjoyable to cats (I know my cats love to shred!). Shredding cardboard makes a pretty loud sound as well, and that makes the whole experience even more satisfying. And, of course, shredding cardboard leaves a clear visual mark – which is one of the reasons cats scratch in the first place.
Things to consider:
- If your cat loves to shred like mine do, or especially if you have more than one cat, a cardboard scratcher will probably not last very long compared to other materials. Does the cardboard scratcher you are interested in have a replaceable insert, or would you have to replace the entire thing? Is the price of the product worth its relatively short life span?
- Does your cat love catnip? If so, a cardboard scratcher could be twice as enjoyable for her! The little holes in the cardboard are perfect for sprinkling catnip into. Just make sure the cardboard is sealed at the bottom, to keep the catnip inside the scratcher.
- Cardboard is recyclable and often made from recycled materials. Eco-friendly materials are always a better choice!
- Shredding cardboard can make quite a mess (my cats also love to bite into cardboard and rip it with their mouths, but that’s a whole different story). Take into consideration that you will probably have to clean little pieces of cardboard from the scratcher’s surrounding area every few days. It all depends on your cat’s regular behavior
If you have carpets and rugs around your home, you probably noticed that cats like to scratch that type of material. Indeed, carpet is a popular choice for cat scratching pads. Carpets come in a variety of colors and patterns, textures and densities. The possibilities are endless!
Things to consider:
- If you do have carpets around your home, and you don’t want your cat clawing it, consider getting a cat scratcher with a different material. If you still want to get a carpet cat scratcher, make sure to choose one with a different texture than the carpets you have at home. Allowing your cat to scratch one carpet and not the other can cause confusion: your cat wouldn’t understand why one is OK to scratch and the other is not.
- Consider the texture of the carpet, to ensure a smooth scratching experience: if the carpet is too lumpy, your cat’s claws can get stuck while scratching, making the scratch session not so smooth and enjoyable. However, it still needs to be rough enough to allow shredding. As with sisal, think about the direction of the carpet fibers.
Felt and other materials
I have not come across many other materials for cat scratchers. I managed to find a very chic felt scratch panel, but that’s about it. If you come across a cat scratcher with a different material, it could still be suitable for your cat. Just remember to ask yourself all the questions I brought up in this article, regarding texture, direction, similarity to other materials around your home that you don’t want your cat to scratch, and of course – sustainability and safety.
Types of Cat Scratchers
Cat scratchers come in a variety of shapes and forms. The shape of a cat scratcher has a great impact on the scratching experience. Different shapes have different purposes. Let’s go over some popular cat scratching furniture forms, and what to look for in each one of them:
Cat scratching posts are either cylindrical or square poles that are usually vertical. They can either be freestanding or wall mounted. If the post is tall enough, your cat can climb it like a tree in the savanna!
Freestanding posts are attached to a base, and sometimes there’s a seat on top of the pole for the cat to perch on. The most important thing to check when acquiring a freestanding scratching post is stability. The base of the pole has to be wide and sturdy. If the base of the scratching post is not stable enough, it might topple over while your cat scratches it. Besides the obvious danger of injury, if your cat doesn’t feel safe scratching the post – she probably wouldn’t want to scratch it again, and it will remain unused. Be sure to pick a sturdy scratching post.
In case of a wall mounted post, make sure that it secures safely to the wall. If there’s a perch on top – is it stable enough? Again, safety is most important.
Another important factor is the size (or height) of the scratching post. Vertical scratching posts are great for stretching – but if the post is too small for your cat she won’t be able to fully stretch, which kind of misses the mark.
Scratch boards and scratch pads
Cat scratching boards usually combine a flat frame or base with a scratchable insert. Cardboard scratch pads can either be all cardboard, or have a frame as well, with a replaceable cardboard insert. These can also be wall mounted for a vertical stretch. It’s better to supply your cat with plenty of options for multiple scratching directions.
Some scratching furniture are not horizontal or vertical, but rather angular. These allow a whole new scratching position. Scratching is exercise, as we learned earlier. Being able to exercise in different positions enhances the whole experience, working a different muscle group every time. If your cat already has a vertical cat scratcher, the next one you get him should be horizontal or angled.
Scratch sofas and scratch beds
Do you sometimes stretch while still in bed? I do. It helps me wake up. There are plenty of cat beds and perches that have scratchable parts, or are scratchable in their entirety, like a 2-in-1. Scratch sofas come in a variety of unique and irregular shapes. Again, try to introduce your cat to unusual scratching positions for better exercise.
Other cat furniture with scratchable parts
Most cat houses, cat mansions and cat shelving systems will probably have at least one element for scratching. In fact, almost any furniture can be made cat-scratchable by wrapping some sisal rope or piece of carpet around it. The possibilities are endless!
Whatever scratching furniture you choose for your cat, make sure to bring in a variety of shapes and forms. Combine different materials for individual experiences. Pick multiple shapes to allow different scratching angles. The key to a happy and healthy cat is having plenty of stimulation!
*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission when you click some of the links and make purchases. This does not impact my recommendations. I try my best to find the finest products for you and your cat.