Other Animals

You love your cat. But you don’t love when he claws up your couch.

Scratching is inevitable, but your furniture doesn’t have to be the victim. The Dodo spoke with Dr. Vanessa Spano, a veterinarian at Behavior Vets in New York City, to find out how to save your sofa.

Why do cats scratch?

One of the most common issues cat parents have is that their cats scratch up their furniture. But it’s important to remember that scratching is a totally normal cat behavior. There are several reasons behind it, including:

  • Sharpening their nails
  • Stretching their claws
  • Marking an area as their territory

When you catch your cat in the act, you might find yourself wanting to scold or punish him. You’re frustrated, after all.
But that reaction could actually make things worse.

“Scratching due to marking can increase due to stress,” Dr. Spano told The Dodo. “Punishment may further stress out the cat, and if the scratching behavior is due to marking, this additional stress from punishment may thus increase anxiety and exacerbate the issue further.”

What you should do when your cat is clawing your furniture

According to Dr. Spano, you can’t — and shouldn’t — get your cat to stop scratching altogether, since it’s a perfectly normal behavior.

“Instead of attempting to eliminate it,” she said, “It is more productive to refocus this natural behavior onto an appropriate target.”

Dr. Spano recommends drawing your cat away from your furniture, and distracting him with a totally different action.

“If you catch the cat [as he] is about to scratch an inappropriate target, redirect them quickly and have them perform an incompatible behavior, such as a ‘sit’ cue or chasing a toy,” Dr. Spano explained.

It’s also best to give your cat another outlet for his clawing, like a scratching post.

Cats tend to prefer posts that are at least 3 feet tall, have multiple levels and are made of rope.

Try this scratching post from Petco for $77.62
Or this multi-level post from Petco for $39.99

But sometimes you’ll find that even after buying your cat a perfectly good rope scratching post, he’s still scratching your sofa.

So what gives?

Well, a lot of couch arms are over three feet tall. Plus, your cat might prefer the texture of your couch to the texture of his post. It’s as simple as that.

So if that’s the case, Dr. Spano recommends buying (or making) a post out of the same material as your furniture. That way, it’ll be easier to redirect your cat.

You can try this cardboard cat couch from Petco for $26.99

When your cat finally scratches what he’s supposed to, she said, you should reward him with praise, treats or high-value toys.

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