One of the problems that is always mentioned when talking about cats is the use of their nails, the destructive effect they can have, mainly on furniture, and how these damages can be avoided. In this article by Animal Expert we will explain tricks so that our cat does not scratch the furniture, but we will also detail what is the origin of this behavior, how it can be redirected and what environment we must provide our cat so that it meets all its biological needs. .
You may also be interested: Why does my cat scratch furniture?
- Why does your cat scratch furniture?
- The needs of cats
- When is scratching a problem?
- How to prevent your cat from scratching the furniture?
Why does your cat scratch furniture?
Before providing tricks so that the cat does not scratch the furniture, we must know why this behavior occurs. To do this, we have to think about the customs of the cat as a species and review its biological behaviors .
Cats are predatory and carnivorous animals that usually live independently in a more or less wide territory. To hunt they need to maintain an elastic, agile and fast body, where the claws play a very important role. In addition to feeding, cats must mark their territory , a task for which they resort to the emission of certain substances, pheromones , which, although not appreciable to the human nose, play a crucial role in communication between cats. These substances serve to mark the territorial limits of cats, just as occurs with the marks left with the nails when scratching. Thus, from the pads and during the scratching mechanism, cats leave visible and odoriferous signsin certain places of strategic importance to them. In addition, scratching removes the covers of your nails and it is not surprising that we find them in their favorite scratching places.
Although the cat has become our companion inside homes, the biological behaviors that we have explained will be transported from the natural environment to our homes. Therefore, it is essential to know that cats do not scratch furniture to annoy us , but that they are responding to their communication needs.
The needs of cats
The cats we choose as companions, even indoors, must be able to express and develop their biological needs. Thus, in addition to having food and water according to their requirements and adequate veterinary care that includes an adapted schedule of internal and external deworming and vaccinations, we must include an optimal environment where our cat can climb, rest, play and, of course, dialing , because for him, as we have seen, is an important form of communication.
Our cat will interact with us but also with other animals with which he lives at home using his pheromones. If we observe our cat when it rubs against us, we will see that it does so starting from the sides of its face, continuing from the sides and ending at the base of the tail. We will notice that it always repeats the same pattern and it does so because from these areas it releases calming pheromones, while mixing its scent with ours. This is a sign of trust, a sign of love for us, but it can also be a way to capture our attention and even mark us as part of their territory. If we return the petting it is probable that our cat purrs. Some, in addition, drool and begin to make movements with the legs up and down, stretching and shrinking their fingers as if they were kneading. This behavior is reminiscent of their lactation stage, in which they perform these movements on their mothers’ abdomen while they nurse, stimulating the milk to escape.
Within territorial behaviors, we will see that the cat rubs its face against different objects, marking them with its scent. When this marking is done with the nails in places that humans do not consider adequate, problems arise and the need to modify that behavior. With this objective we will see tricks so that our cat does not scratch furniture , curtains, rugs or any other accessory that we do not want to be damaged.
When is scratching a problem?
We have explained that marking with the nails is a completely normal feline behavior and that, in addition, it fulfills an important communicative function, but sometimes these scratches express a problem that goes beyond being able to damage the furniture. In these cases we will see that the cat scratches in different places , often near windows or doors, urinates or defecates outside the sandbox, hides, stops eating or does so in less quantity, etc. If we observe any of these alterations in our cat, the first thing we must do is contact our vet to rule out that we are facing any health problem. If the cat is healthy, it is most likely suffering from stress, whose cause should be determined, which may be a bad adaptation, boredom, changes in the environment, the arrival of new members in the family, etc. Check out the article on ” Stressful Cats ” for more information, as the solution for stress markingIt will depend on the cause, hence the importance of diagnosing it correctly, for which we can seek the advice of a professional in feline behavior, which can be a specialized veterinarian or an ethologist.
Although we can contribute to solving the problem by following tricks so that our cat does not scratch the furniture or urinate outside the litter box, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the cat is having a bad time and, since it does not know how to speak, it shows it with this type of behaviors that can be solved. Therefore, it is not acceptable , under any circumstances, to unblock our cat. This intervention, which consists of removing the claws, in addition to causing unnecessary pain, seriously affects their personality and behaviors that all healthy cats must carry out, as well as causing physical repercussions.
How to prevent your cat from scratching the furniture?
As we have said, it is important to have the advice of a professional specialized in feline behavior and to observe carefully what are the routines that our cat follows every day, while we try to determine the trigger of the behaviors that we want to modify. An essential aspect, which undoubtedly contributes to the cat’s happiness and, therefore, to reducing its stress levels is environmental enrichment , which consists in offering our cat an environment, even if it is inside a flat, in the that can develop as a cat, with places to climb, jump, hide, rest or play. Even in the smallest houses it is possible to create attractive environments simply by arranging shelves or furniture so that the cat can go up and down at will.
Other essential elements are the scrapers . In the market we can find all kinds of models, of different formats and heights, from the most sophisticated to the simplest, made up of just a vertical pole on a support. If we have more than one cat, it is recommended that each one have its own scratcher, which we could do ourselves with wood and rope, if we are skilled. For sale we can also find massage centers, hammocks, toys of all kinds and igloo-type beds that serve as great hiding places. And we can not forget home entertainment alternatives such as cardboard boxes, aluminum foil balls, laces and a long etcetera.
In addition to environmental enrichment, we can follow the following recommendations or tricks so that our cat does not scratch furniture or eliminate in inappropriate places due to stress:
- If we see our cat doing some “forbidden” action, we can try saying “no” firmly, without screaming. Nor should we punish him, much less hit him.
- The cat will be interested in marking our scent, so it is advisable to have an old T-shirt of ours or any other fabric used by us on his scratching post to encourage him to scratch there.
- We must place the scrapers in their favorite areas, where we see that they scratch, or in their resting places, since they usually scratch as soon as they wake up and stretch.
- If the cat has already scratched a piece of furniture or carpet, we can, as far as possible, move it and put the scraper in its place. The same if you always urinate or defecate in the same place and we have the possibility of putting the sandpit there.
- There are products on the market that encourage the use of the scraperand help redirect behavior. They work with pheromones and visual cues so that, by applying them to the scratcher, they attract the cat to scratch there. Such is the case of by FELIWAY®, a guaranteed product very easy to use and with excellent results, which simulates the natural pheromones emitted by cats and produces an almost immediate effect on them.
- There are also pheromones in a diffuser or spraythat serve to calm the cat when the marking is given by stress and are used in the environment or at specific points; FELIWAY CLASSIC has a whole range of products for this purpose.
- As for the litter box, it is recommended to have as many as cats live at home plus one. We must keep it clean, in a quiet place and with the litter that the cat likes best.