PETS’ CORNER Save your sofa


Cats can learn that couches are not for clawing.
?Cats can learn that couches are not for clawing.

Save your sofa

Ask the vet
Esther Van Luipen

This week a Mayo News reader asked me what to do about their cat clawing the furniture. If your cat has taken to clawing the furniture as a hobby, it can be very annoying, and even distressing – especially if you live in rented accommodation.
Scratching is a natural, normal and satisfying behaviour for your cat, but a few tips may be able to change your pet’s preference.
First of all, teach your cat to scratch a scratching post or tree instead of the furniture. Make sure that the tree or scratching post is stable enough, so your cat can climb in it, scratch it, pull it and claw it without getting hurt. It should be covered in a material that your cat can dig its claws into, like sisal.
Clawing is a territory marker, so make sure the cat tree or scratching post is in a prominent place, just like that clawed corner of the couch, in the middle of the sitting room. When your cat uses the scratching post praise him/her. When the cat is using the scratching post or tree properly, you can start moving it slowly (every day another inch) to another place in the house where it is not in the way so much.
Play with your cat around the cat tree and praise her every time she digs her claws in the tree.
Make the other places where your cat likes to scratch less appealing by sticking double-sided tape on it. Cats absolutely hate anything that is sticking on their paws. (This is also handy to use on other places where you don’t like your cat to go. For instance, if the cat likes climbing through the bathroom window, but you want it to use the cat flap instead. Just stick double sided tape outside the window and on the windowsill.)
If  your cat is still clawing the furniture, spray him with a bottle of water. Cats don’t like getting wet! The trick is not to be seen by your cat when you’re squirting the bottle. The cat should believe that it is the furniture itself that is doing the spraying, and therefore the punishing.
Yes, your interior will look a bit funny for a while, and people might believe you’re a bit mad when you’re sitting behind the settee trying to squirt the cat with water, but it is only for a while, and it will spare your furniture in the long run.