When you own a pet, they become a part of your family. Cats are no different. It’s a tremendous joy to watch them play or sleep or to hear them purr. Like all other kinds of pets, however, cats have a list of instinctive habits or idiosyncrasies that many people find annoying (a recent post covered hairballs). When your cat starts leaving scratch marks, and it involves your favorite chair or your new carpet, it’s downright infuriating.
It’s in Their Makeup
Cats, like other animals, have instincts that motivate them into action. Clawing and scratching is a normal part of being a cat. Scratching a tree, rock or other landmark helps mark their territory, visibly communicating with other cats. Also, their pads leave a scent that is detected only by other cats. It’s natural that they try to do the same thing in your home – after all, it’s their home too. But sometimes they choose to claw up a rug, carpet or sofa that you really don’t want them to. What can be done?
Think Like A Cat
Many people buy a scratch pad or scratch post, place it in a far-off corner of the house, and then expect the cat to use it instead. Invariably, they never do. At times, the owner douses the post with catnip, but the cat acts like the post isn’t even there. They place the cat on it or next to it, and they just move away. What’s the deal?
Though driven by instinct, cats also have preferences. Take clues from where – and what – your cat has been scratching. Is their target vertical, or horizontal? Is the fabric rough, soft or smooth to the touch? By scratching the item, they’re showing you what kinds of textures they prefer. Find a scratching post or pad that emulates those characteristics.
Also remember that cats use clawing and scratching as a form of communication. They do it in prominent places to announce both their presence and their territory – they won’t just do it where you’d prefer them to. Instead, place the new target nearby the original. It might not be conducive to your desired furniture placement, but the goal is to nurse them from the old target to the new. Once they are using the new item, it could be relocated, but it likely needs to be in the same general vicinity if you want your cat to continue using it.
Positive and Negative Reinforcement
Your cat might still need more encouragement to stop clawing the original item. Thankfully, cats are not big fans of citrus odors. Spray the previously clawed area with a strong citrus spray, one formulated to deter cat scratching. Also, consider applying something like double-sided tape to the originally scratched area – cats don’t like that sticky feeling on their paws.
We all like praise and rewards, right? Well, so do cats. Don’t forget to praise your cat for using the new item or not using the old one. Give them a treat when they use the right one or pick up their favorite toy and play with them for a while. It will encourage them to do the task leading to the praise.
Another option is to get your cat used to getting their nails trimmed, even one or two at a time, to keep their length under control. You can also apply claw caps that simply cover the claw. They last for about three weeks and then come off naturally as the claw grows.
The good news is, you don’t have to choose between your furnishings and your cat. They can all live peacefully under the same roof. Having the team at Preferred Carpet Care regularly maintain your carpet and upholstery allows us to keep an eye out for any potential wear and tear issues before they become irreversible. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online. We’d love to hear about the interactions between your cat and your carpet.
- Posted by Rod Barth
- On June 13, 2019