It’s important to be patient and understanding with your cat while halting scratching behaviour on the wrong surfaces. Firstly, you need to purchase or make a suitable scratching surface for your home such as cat posts, scratching pads or cat gyms. Check out the range of cat enrichment available from RSPCA World for Pets here.
Rebecca did just that and bought Tulip a large cat gym, which she has since happily claimed. But it wasn’t immediate. She says, “It took time to convince our Majesty that this gym is the only suitable place for her to scratch. We placed her food bowl and blanket on the gym for a time and frequently had to redirect her – we had to place the gym directly at the end of our bed, her favourite post!”
Over time, as Rebecca interacted with Tulip and the gym, providing positive reinforcement and offering treats as rewards for approaching the gym without encouragement, Tulip began to use the gym daily.
It’s important to remember cats do not scratch for no reason and this behaviour shouldn’t be discourage entirely. Rather, it should be redirected and rewarded in the appropriate circumstance.
Illustration by RSPCA Volunteer, Chris Ward
For cats still interested in your furniture even after you’ve provided an alternative place to scratch, try to gently discourage them from sharpening claws there.
Among the things you can try is putting wide double-sided sticky tape or Sticky Paws over the furniture or setting up a PetSafe SSSCAT spray bottle near problem areas (the spray is harmless compressed air and is activated with motion sensors). Here are some ideas from RSPCA World for Pets.
Never use physical punishment like hitting your cat.