Cats love to scratch things! While you love to see your cat working out his natural instincts, you don’t love the beating your leather furniture is taking. Is there a way to have nice furniture AND a happy cat?
The first step to making your house cat-friendly is to understand the reasons behind your cat’s behaviour. What is it that makes your cat tick? Since most feline behaviour is rooted in logic, there are many reasons that could explain why our cats love to scratch things.
Why do cats scratch furniture?
Cats get great satisfaction from using their claws. Experts say that some cats love this activity because it is a unique way of marking a specific spot as theirs. Just as dogs often mark with urine to send the message that they “own” a certain territory, so cats have their own means of letting other cats know they’ve claimed a place for themselves. Your home is their home, and because of this, they like to leave their imprint, and one of the ways they can do this is by leaving a visible “reminder” on your furniture.
Make no mistake, cats intend no offence by leaving behind their mark. Quite the opposite. When a cat leaves claw marks in your leather sofa, it is meant to be flattering. Your cat uses this means to communicate that the two of you belong to each other. You could view it as a sort of “cat Valentine”.
Some cats scratch furniture in their homes as a means of alleviating boredom. Still others make use of hardwood items to keep their nails in tip top shape. Unlike dogs whose humans have to take care of basic nail care for them, cats take on this job themselves. While we appreciate having one less job on our “to do” list, we don’t want to have to sacrifice our good leather sofa to the “cause”.
Other reasons for cat scratching include stress relief and limbering up muscles through stretching.
What can you do to protect your furniture?
If you don’t want your cat to make your leather furniture the object of his affection, you will need to provide alternatives for him. Other opportunities to fulfill this natural desire will achieve the same purpose for your cat while allowing you to maintain lovely furniture.
Among the options you can put in place for your cat are:
- Provide ideally situated scratching posts for your cat.
Scratching posts are ideal substitutes for your cat to work out his instincts in a healthy manner. Make sure to place them in prime locations throughout your home. If your cat scratches to mark his territory, it will be important to him that his “artwork” be on display for all to see. Hiding cat scratching posts will defeat the purpose of protecting your furniture as cats don’t get the same gratification from things that are hidden away from view.
Installing a scratching post near your cat’s bedding is an ideal location. Many cats like to stretch their legs through scratching their favourite object when they first wake up in the morning. With some careful observation, you can easily identify the right places to place scratching posts to allow your cat the pleasure of a good scratch while still keeping your furniture in good condition.
- Make use of positive reinforcement to teach appropriate places to scratch.
Believe it or not, dogs are not the only creatures that respond to positive reinforcement training! Get yourself some extremely yummy treats or even catnip and use it to reward your cat when he scratches his post or other appropriate items. Your cat will soon learn the correct places for him to scratch and will start to gravitate towards them.
- Include objects with different textures to provide variety for your cat.
Maybe you’ve tried to install scratching posts throughout your house, but you just can’t seem to capture your cat’s interest for more than a passing glance or two. It’s time to try different fabrics! Maybe your cat isn’t a fan of hardwood and would prefer carpet. Variety is the spice of life, so mix it up by including scratching posts upholstered in different materials all throughout your house. Some materials that cats love are corrugated cardboard, carpet, and even plush velvet.
- Make use of scents as an all natural deterrent.
Just as with humans, there are certain scents that Frisky just doesn’t like. Consider coating your prized furniture in a citrus-based fragrance or deodorizing spray. This will act as a natural cat repellent and will ensure protection for your furniture. Reapply as necessary until your cat seems to understand that your leather chair is off limits.
Eucalyptus and apple cider vinegar are two additional smells that cats find unappealing.
- Make friends with double-sided tape.
Cats don’t like any surface that is sticky. Their claws stick to it, and it’s a nuisance to try to get off. They will avoid anything with a sticky surface. Wrap prime scratching areas with double-sided tape to keep them scratch free. Of course, the down side to this is your leather is intact, but your furniture legs are now coated with ugly tape. This might be a great “last resort” option.
- Install a cat pheromone diffuser.
Most veterinarians sell a plug-in diffuser which dispenses pheromones to help promote the feeling of calm and peacefulness for cats. This is a great consideration if stress scratching is a problem for your feline friend.
- Talk to your veterinarian about Soft Paws.
Soft Paws are nail caps that were formulated by a veterinarian to address the problem of cat scratching destruction in homes. They are safe, non-toxic, and easy to apply. They come in a variety of colours and sizes and offer a great solution for those wanting to maintain the quality of their furniture while still allowing their cats to enjoy reclining on it with them.
When it comes to leather furniture and your cat’s desire to scratch things, you can have your cake and eat it too! Follow these helpful tips to provide alternative options to keep your cat happy and healthy and your furniture looking great.