Is your new kitten scratching furniture to his heart’s content? Your new pet might be adorable, but that leather living room suite deserves better. Though it’s a really frustrating habit, there are ways to tackle your kitten’s scratching problem.
Here are some tips you can use to save your furniture – and your sanity.
Why is my kitten scratching furniture?
Why do cats and kittens insist on scratching up our beloved possessions and valued home décor? It’s not that they don’t approve of your taste in interior design. There’s a few other good reasons why cats scratch:
- Stretching. Scratching helps cats and kittens to stretch their muscles and tendons, from their back and shoulders right down to their toes. Plus, it feels great for them – the same way that a good stretch when you wake up helps you to feel good.
- Claw maintenance. Cats scratch their claws to keep them sharp. Obviously this would be helpful in the wild for hunting purposes. Nowadays, most are domesticated but it’s still a natural instinct for them. You’ll find that whether your puss is an indoors-only or indoors/outdoors pet they’ll still scratch your furniture, carpet, curtains and more. Sigh.
- Marking their territory. Cats have scent glands between their paws, and scratching allows them to mark their territory. Even if you only have one cat (read our blog if you’re not sure if you should get one or two kittens) they still want to leave this scent trail behind. It’s part of feline social structure.
If you’re a new kitten parent, it might be a surprise to know that cats scratching is entirely natural. Here’s five more things that first-time kitten parents need to know.
So, you can rest easy knowing this scratching habit isn’t something your kitten is doing purely to frustrate you. Now let’s look at what you can do to stop a kitten scratching furniture.
Invest in scratching posts
It’s Murphy’s Law that your cat will pick your curtains to scratch instead of their expensive, purpose-built scratching post. But many owners don’t consider that they might need to provide a variety of scratching posts. With a new kitten provide a few options, if your funds allow it.
Some cats prefer flat or horizontal scratching posts, while others prefer tall vertical or slanted ones. Then there’s the material; from wood, upholstery, and carpeting to coarse hemp-style fabric. With a new kitten, provide a few options.
Once you know what they like, get a couple of those and dot them around the house to give your kitten options. Place them in areas where the most scratching occurs. Near the arms of the couch, the dining room table, the bedroom curtains, or the rug, for instance.
Oh, and another top tip. Sprinkle some catnip over the scratching posts to get kitty’s attention. That’s sure to make them want to investigate further.
Stop a kitten scratching furniture by limiting their access
Sometimes, your kitten is just determined to make a mockery of your efforts. You put down a post and they glance at it disdainfully as they scratch your table. You tell them no and they scratch harder. We get it!
Like with a toddler, sometimes it is easier to limit their access to furniture where possible. You can do this in a few different ways, but all have the same goal: stop the scratch!
The first option is to cover their favourite scratching areas with something. This could be a blanket, plastic protective covers, an adhesive strip like Sellotape, or purpose made cat scratching deterrent tape. Even something like tin foil could work (for a chair leg, for instance), though you won’t win any design awards.
Another option to use on its own or with the above suggestions is cat no-scratch spray. Yes, really. And speaking from experience, the combined powers of this plus cat couch tape will likely see your couch unscathed.
You can also remove the cat from the area. If the new kitten scratches your living room carpet for instance, then keep that door shut whenever you’re not in the room. Difficult, we know.
Tell them “no” if you catch them red-pawed
If you catch your cat in the act of scratching, you can dissuade them. Don’t smack them or punish them. However, you can make a quick sound to startle them out of the behaviour. A clap or hiss can often be effective to startle them and stop the scratching, but don’t yell at them or scare them.
Remember to praise your cat enthusiastically whenever you see them scratching their posts. Training a cat is very different to training a dog, and it can be hard to get the approach right. Here’s some tips from our experts across the pond at Hills New Zealand.
Admit that you loooove them, despite the scratching
The little scratching problem might be infuriating, but we know that you’re already in love with your new kitten. Why not think about taking out pet insurance to protect them against life’s dangers? Check out our cat insurance plans here.