We’ve all been there – you leave for the day, and you come back too tired to count the new claw scratches that have “miraculously” appeared on your table legs or thread of pulled-out fibers on your couch.
You give your cat a reprimanding look, but they couldn’t care less. Opposed to dogs, cats are much trickier to work with and train not to wreak havoc on your furniture.
If you have a docile one on your hands and you don’t need to cat-proof anything, good for you.
But for the rest of us, scratching is a serious issue, and most owners choose to accept it and not pay attention to that expensive sofa looking worse with every passing week.
Today, we take a look at what you can do if you’re not the giving-up type and actually want to do something about it.
It’s not a choice for them
If you’ve never researched the topic, you might be thinking that you have a particularly malicious pet that just wants to destroy stuff.
That’s almost never the case.
Scratching is woven into the most basic of feline urges. If they were in the wild they would scratch on a tree, in your home, they’ll find the next best thing.
Cat-proofing your home is not about battling the instinct. If you go down that road, you’ll end up with the short end of the proverbial stick 9 out of 10 times.
Instead, learn to work around their instincts. Learn to use their other primary urges,
especially dislikes, to mold their behaviour.
Let’s get specific.
Choosing a cat-proof couch or sofa
The word itself (cat-proof) has the connotation that you’ll probably end up with a sofa that is resistant to claws but sturdy and uncomfortable.
The good news
The good news is that the best way to go around choosing the material is not to look for one that’s strong enough to take the abuse of the claws.
It’s about choosing fabric that will discourage them from scratching in the first place, and the superior material here is also one of the comfiest for a human…but we’ll get to that in a minute.
First, let’s understand why they scratch in the first place
The main reason is that they are instinctively searching for a surface to trim and sharpen their nails, that’s it.
Once you understand the instinct, it gets easier to “reverse-engineer” and control it.
They won’t scratch it if it doesn’t do the trick
As we said, they scratch to trim their nails and most couch materials are perfect for it…the weave is just close enough to work for them.
The good news we promised to share is that one of the softest and comfiest material is also a great scratch-deterrent.
Velvet and why it doesn’t work for them
Velvet is so closely woven and has such a smooth surface that it doesn’t work for their purpose. They need something more rugged.
That’s why it’s fair to say that velvet is THE material to look at if you are looking for a cat-proof couch.
What to avoid
The one couch material you’ll want to avoid is chenille.
The weave and pattern of chenille are just right for your cat to “work with.” It’s also the most easily damaged (they’ll pull strings of fabric out like it’s nobody’s business).
More importantly, it’s unsafe for them.
As they scratch chenille, they’ll pull out long strings and can easily get caught and tangled.
But I already have a couch…
In this scenario, you’ll want to look at a cat-proof couch protector.
They best of them are water-resistant and will also protect the sofa from urine-related “accidents.”
If you don’t want them on the sofa…
Not many owners will choose this path because there’s nothing like them purring next to you on a rainy afternoon. Most of us want them near.
But, just to make sure that we’ve covered all the bases, let’s take a moment to look at the options you have if you want to discourage them from getting on the sofa.
Sofa scram deterrent
This little device works by using the power of learned behavior.
It’s basically a battery-powered cover that you spread over the surface that you don’t want them on.
Once they try to get on, it emits a sound that startles them. It’s very efficient, and no, it doesn’t have to stay on there for long. Just a few times of the Scram scarring the bejesus out of them and they’ll walk around that piece of furniture in broad circles. It works for both cats and dogs.
It might be a choice for people who are OK with their cat on the sofa but want to have some uninterrupted peace in the bedroom.
Give them an alternative
Besides the obvious steps, like keeping their claws neatly trimmed, you’ll want to give them an alternative.
Cat trees and scratching posts are just right for it – they’re usually made of materials that will be an ideal scratching station.
Cat-proofing the table and couch legs
This is a tricky one because there’s just so much to cover.
There are products like protective “socks” but they are not a joy to look at, especially if you have them all over the place.
Work with citrus smells instead
Even if you do protect the legs, it can be counter-productive because if they can’t trim their nails against the wooden legs, what’s stopping them from hopping onto the table and damaging it even worse.
If there is a specific piece of furniture you want to cat-proof, your best bet is to use citrus smells. For some reason, cats hate it.
The use of citrus smells is limited, especially in small spaces because if you do spray it all over your home, the space itself will become an unwelcoming environment for them.
So, it does work well but should be used moderately to protect one or two pieces that you hold especially dear.
If nothing else works
There are cats out there that are simply more aggressive and will not be as easily deterred.
If that’s your case, you should think bigger and talk to your vet about using some type of cat-calming products like pheromone-based diffusers or calming edibles.
Whatever the case, just going along with it won’t solve anything. The more freedom they have, the more they will push for.
A responsible owner will learn the ways to avoid things getting out of hand.