How to Stop Cats Scratching Destructively

Calico cat scratching nails on carpet floor stairs steps staircase inside indoor house, home, destroying it

Cats clawing furniture and other objects in the house is a typical complaint among cat owners. Although this might be aggravating, keep in mind that scratching is a common and natural habit in cats.

Although cats have a natural desire to scratch, scratching things we consider improper, such as our sofas and stairwell posts, is harmful. Fortunately, this is something that can be readily avoided and handled.

Why Do Cats Scratch?

Scratching is a natural cat habit that is necessary for their physical and emotional well-being. You may avoid damage to your home by knowing your cat's scratching activity. Cats scratch for a variety of causes.

  • To maintain necessary claw motion used in hunting and climbing: Cats are natural hunters and they use their claws to capture and hold prey. They also use this motion to exercise the forelimb muscles and spine to keep them in good condition for hunting. 
  • Offense and defense: Cats use their claws to defend themselves during conflicts with other cats or other animals.
  • Emotional outlet: Cats scratch to relieve stress and scratch when they become excited or aroused. Have you ever seen your cat slowly walk by a cat in your home and then begin scratching? Scratching allows the cat to release their frustration. Has your cat ever started scratching as soon as you came home from work? In this case, it's out of excitement as scratching can be an expression of joy.
  • Strengthens and stretches their muscles, and it's a form of exercise: Scratching is a good form of exercise and helps to keep your cats in shape. They get to stretch out their bodies and extend and retract their nails. Just like many of us, cats like to stretch when they first wake up. 
  • Marking behavior and communication: Cats scratch to communicate with other cats. When they scratch, they leave scent and visible markers. Their paw pads have scent glands, which leave odors behind when they scratch so that other cats know that they have been in the area. When cats scratch objects, they also leave small gouges, which are visual signals to other cats in the area. 
  • Feline nail care: When your cat scratches on an object, it removes the outer dead sheath of the nail and exposes the healthy new growth underneath. It is not uncommon to find crescent moon shaped nail sheaths around your cats favorite scratching spots. 
  • Fun: Cats love to stretch, scratch, and play! 

How Can I Prevent My Cat From Scratching?

You cannot, in a nutshell. Scratching is a very natural cat activity. It's unrealistic to expect this conduct to go away on its own. Scratching is a normal and intuitive habit for cats, and we must give proper avenues for them to express and feel it.

Scratching should not be punished. This involves squirting water, shaking a can of pennies, and other similar activities. Punishment does not teach the cat proper behavior, and it can raise fear, worry, and tension, as well as harm your relationship with your cat.

How to Stop Destructive Scratching

Cats need to scratch so we want to provide them with appropriate outlets for this behavior by providing suitable surfaces to scratch. 

Always have plenty of acceptable scratching areas for your cat with a variety of surfaces and textures. Scratchers come in multiples styles, sizes, and materials.

To figure out which substrates and scratchers your cat favors, try a range of them. Scratching posts or pads made of sisal rope, cardboard, wood, or sisal fabric are some examples of what most cats enjoy. Both horizontal and vertical scratching surfaces are ideal. Scratchers should be strong and not unsteady or tip over when scratched by your cat. Scratching posts for cats must be tall. To receive a full-body stretch, your cat should be able to stand on their hind legs and fully extend their body up the side of the post.

The location of scratchers is crucial. Because our cats prefer to be with us, keep them in places where you and your cats both spend time. When cats wake up, they tend to stretch or scratch, so try placing one near where they sleep. When cats are in a stressful environment or to relieve anxiety, they scratch. Scratchers should be placed in all locations where you think your cats would like them the most.

Make Appropriate Scratching Areas Appealing 

Keep your cat away from the scratching post and don't make them drag their claws across it. We don't like being pushed to do things, and cats are no exception. This may frighten your cat, causing them to avoid the scratcher entirely.

Make the scratching locations you want your cat to scratch more enticing instead. Place catnip or silvervine near them or attach toys to the scratching post to do this. You may also offer your cats food and play with them on or around the scratcher to help them develop a positive relationship with it.

Finally, Feliscratch can be used since one of the reasons cats scratch is to communicate through fragrance. Feliway invented Feliscratch to simulate the aroma that cats distribute to other cats when scratching. Feliscratch encourages your cats to scratch there again by imitating their signals.

Positively Redirect 

If your cat is scratching your furniture, figure out what his or her favourite scratching scenario is by observing where your cat scratches inappropriately. Is it vertical? Vertical? What substrate does it resemble the most? Cardboard? Wood?

Buy scratching posts or pads that are comparable to your cat's favourite scratching setup based on his or her preferences. Place an acceptable scratching post near an unacceptable object based on your cat's preferences (for example, couch).

When your cat consistently uses the scratching post, you may gradually relocate it to a more convenient area (no more than a few inches every day). It's ideal to maintain the right scratching objects as close as possible to your cat's favored scratching spots.

Reinforce Scratching 

Reward your cat with a treat, verbal praise, or a pet when they scratch their scratchers. Remember that what one cat finds rewarding may not be rewarding to another, so treat your cat in a way that they appreciate.

Regular Claw Trimming

Because claws do not naturally wear down, your cat must groom them by clawing a rough surface, such as your furniture or carpeting. Regular toenail cutting helps to minimize destructive clawing as well as snagging and tearing her nails on objects.

  1. Be Patient and Prepared

    Take a deep breath and maintain a nice and calm demeanor. Purchase cat nail trimmers that are comfortable to use, with a rubber coating to prevent slippage, and a stainless steel blade before you begin.

  2. Get Comfy

    Cut your cat's nails in a peaceful, distraction-free environment. A non-slip surface, such as a yoga mat, is essential for cats to stand on. It's preferable to clip your cat's nails while he or she is relaxing, rather than in the middle of a game.

  3. Start Slowly and Take It One Step at a Time

    At the same moment, clip one nail and provide a reward. If your cat remains calm, clip the second nail as it eats; if your cat remains calm, work up to trimming five nails in one sitting. Be prepared to just clip one paw, or possibly one or two claws, at first as your cat adjusts.

  4. Make It Positive

    The majority of cats' experiences with nail trims have been negative, resulting in cats disliking nail trims. Prepare some scrumptious, extremely special goodies that your cats only enjoy during nail trims before you begin. Canned food, whip cream, tuna fish, and anchovy paste are just a few examples. Depending on your cat's preferences, you may also offer them a hug, brush, or play session afterward.

  5. Avoid the Quick

    The quick is a pink portion of a cat's nail that is higher up. Because it includes all of your cat's nerves and blood arteries, cutting into it will cause pain and bleeding. It's simple to see where the quick begins while trimming the nails, so you don't nick it. If you cut it by mistake, styptic powder will instantly stop the bleeding.

  6. Ask for Help

    If your cat is resistant to claw trimming or to having her paws handled, a qualified training specialist can help you teach your cat to accept and even enjoy nail trims.

    Environmental Enrichment 

    Enrichment is vital for cats to help prevent destructive scratching and other behavioral disorders that might occur in a dull environment. Enriching your cat's environment helps him to display these behaviors. An enriched habitat should include a range of scratching surfaces, outlets for predatory and prey behavior, safe areas, and a diversity, choice, and control over an animal's daily activities.

    The Problem With Declawing 

    Scratching is a natural action that is beneficial to your cat's physical and mental health. Cat claws originate from the last bone in each toe, unlike human nails, which sprout from the skin. Declawing (onychectomy) is the amputation of this bone, as well as the tendons, nerves, and ligaments that connect it to the rest of the body. It's a big surgery that might leave your cat vulnerable to a range of medical and behavioral issues. Declawing is outlawed in many nations across the world because it is deemed cruel.