My cat is destroying my new sofa and sofa chair with claw marks. He uses the sofa as a scratching post. He’ll also scratch my rug. I tell him ‘No’ and he’ll do it right in front of me! He knows it’s not right to scratch because he’ll see me coming and run.
I’ve tried squirt bottles. We do have a scratcher but he won’t use it. I don’t want to declaw him! How do I make him stop scratching my furniture?
A:Scratching for kitties is a normal, healthy behavior.It is also a social behavior. A cat will scratch, or want to, when they anticipate something good, such as your waking up in the morning, anticipating breakfast, before a play session, before greeting you, when you come home or enter a room, and so on. If you are bonded with a kitty, often the kitty will get excited and scratch in anticipation of a positive interaction or greeting from you. Because scratching is a social behavior and a rewarding behavior, and is an innately ingrained behavior, reprimanding your cat or squirting your cat with water, shaking a can with pennies and so on, will not work. Your cat will still feel the need to scratch. If you use aversives i.e., scolding, yelling, shake cans or squirt bottles, your kitty will fear you or the situation and run away. You did not mention the age of your cat. Young cats will scratch rather frequently, especially before play or in anticipation of play and hunting (before hunting the lint roll, pen cap, for instance, or climbing the curtain rods).