Do you have a kitten with a habit for scratching your furniture? Perhaps they’ve taken a liking to scratching your door frames or wallpaper? First of all, it’s important to understand that your cat’s love of scratching is a natural instinct and actually good for their health and wellbeing. Rather than stopping them from scratching entirely you should try to encourage them to scratch in the correct places, like a scratch post for example; and deter them from scratching the wrong things, like your furniture!
Why do cats scratch?
Whilst it may seem like bad behaviour, your cat’s desire to scratch is actually something to encourage. It has a number of health and wellbeing benefits:
1. Scratching keeps your cat’s claws in tip top condition - Helping to keep them sharp and shedding the outside layer as they grow. We all know cats love to climb, whether it’s a tree outside or their indoor scratch tree inside, and they need their claws to be healthy in order to do so.
2. Scratching provides a workout - When your cat scratches, you may notice how they stretch out their body. Scratching is your cat’s version of a full body workout, allowing them to stretch out their muscles and keep their body in top condition for climbing and chasing their prey!
3. Scratching is also a way for your cat to mark their territory - Your cat’s paws contain scent glands which leave behind an odour around their home. Scratching, especially when they are settling in, will make them feel at home and more secure in their surroundings. It can also relieve stress if they’re feeling anxious.
4. Scratching can be a sign of boredom -. It’s essential to provide your cat with plenty of mental stimulation, especially if you have a house cat. Even older cats who may never have scratched your furniture can develop a bad habit out of stress or boredom.
How to Stop your Cat Scratching your Furniture
The best way to prevent your cat from scratching in the wrong places is to encourage them in the right places! Providing your cat with plenty of scratching opportunities around the home will allow them to sate their desire without ruining your furniture. Good quality, strong scratch posts in a size suitable for your breed are a must. Make sure you provide enough height for your cat to be able to stretch out as they scratch. If you have an indoor cat, we’d highly recommend a series of posts and platforms in the form of a large cat tree so they can exercise in the way an outdoor cat would when outside.
If your cat has already begun scratching your furniture, place a scratch post in that area; near doorways or sofas for example. It is also a good idea to place near sleeping spots as many cats enjoy a good scratch and stretch after waking. If your cat seems to enjoy horizontal scratching (your carpet for example), then a scratching mat is a good option.
If your cat doesn’t seem interested in the post at first, don’t give in, persevere and make the post enticing. You could spray catnip on it or try playing near it. Some posts come with a dangly toy attachment - the perfect addition to encourage your cat to investigate!
If your cat has already scratched somewhere he shouldn’t, make sure you wash down the area to remove any scent your cat may have released. You could even try spraying the area with pet safe Get Off spray to repel your cat from the area.
If you think the scratching is down to boredom or anxiety, provide your cat with lots of toys and plenty of opportunity for interaction. Indoor cats especially, will need a variety of activities to keep them mentally stimulated. Catit make the brilliant Senses range of cat toys that appeal to all of your cat's senses and there are a plethora of playground-like cat trees out there to ensure they get plenty of indoor exercise.
Don’t Consider your Cat Naughty for Scratching
Just remember that scratching is natural and has great benefits for your kitten and cats. Do discourage them from scratching in the wrong areas, but don’t chastise them too much, but rather encourage them in the right spots. It’s a good idea to plan ahead before you bring your kitten home and have areas for them to scratch in preparation.
We hope this article is helpful, to both new kitten owners and those with an older cat who has started to scratch later in life. If you have any more questions, please do get in touch as we're always happy to help as much as we can.