Cats don’t know – or care, for that matter – that they aren’t supposed to shred your couch or shed all over the cushions. To them, everything in the house is cat furniture.
So how do you protect your upholstery from your beloved feline? While a stern “no” isn’t likely work like it does with canines, a slightly more strategic approach can help you protect your couch.
Try these seven proven methods for protecting your favourite sofa from your cat’s fur, dirt, and claws.
1. Make the scratching post more enticing
Scratching is normal and healthy cat behaviour. It’s how they mark their territory, remove the dead outer layer of their claws, and stretch their legs and feet. It’s important they have a scratching post for them to use or they will use your couch instead.
You may need to experiment with moving the scratching post around to find the most effective location. Preferably, the scratching post should be somewhere that your cat already spends a lot of time. You can also try creating a space for your cat that includes a comfy bed and cat toys that will encourage your cat to spend time there.
It’s important to find a scratching post that has a texture your cat likes. Some cats prefer felt or rope, while others prefer wood textures. Experiment with a couple different scratching posts to find the one they like best. Spray the scratching post with catnip once a day to entice them to scratch until it becomes a habit.
The most important factor for a good scratching post is that it’s stable. Avoid any posts that are moving, or that affix to something that moves (like a door). Your cat will try it once and then never again.
2. Make the sofa less enticing
You can discourage the cat from climbing onto your sofa by attaching surfaces to your couch that your cat doesn’t like. Cats generally like textured and rough surfaces where they can sink their claws in. Some people have advocated that double-sided tape is an alternative material you can apply to your couch that will discourage your cat from clawing, as they are put off by things that stick to their feet.
However it’s not the most aesthetic so if you’re not keen on the idea of attaching anything to your couch, getting a custom slipcover made-to-measure might be an alternative. While cat-proof covers aren’t exactly a thing yet, there are some fabrics which are less preferred by cats (microsuede, velvet) so it’s definitely an avenue to explore.
A quick fix could also be to try spritzing your sofa with a lemon-scented spray. Cat’s have a natural aversion to citrus odors, but it may be a bit hard to do this consistently as that’s needed to be done when you catch them red-handed, otherwise they won’t understand that it was because they are on your sofa.
3. Provide plenty of alternative lounging options
If your cat has deemed the couch as their primary spot to sprawl out, you may need to provide them with some of their own furniture to lounge in. Try to identify what attracts your cat to your sofa and then get cat furniture that they will like even better.
For example, if your cat likes high places and is constantly climbing onto the back of your sofa, a tall cat tree or even installing a cat shelf might be ideal.
If your cat prefers to nestle within the soft cushions or under the throw, an enclosed or cave-like bed will offer even more solitude for your cat.
If the sofa is by a window and they use the sofa to lounge in the sunbeams, install a comfy cat couch by the window to give your cat better access to the sun.
4. Optimize the litter box area
Cat’s can be very fussy about where they do their business, and if their litter box is not to their liking, they may soil your furniture in protest. Make sure the litter box is big enough for your cat, and in a private, quiet place. Many cats prefer enclosed or concealed litter boxes. This variety of also helps contain the litter and reduces the amount of tracking across your floor your furniture.
Placing a large mat under the litter box can also help catch loose granules of litter. Lastly, you can consider using a heavier type of litter to further reduce tracking, but careful; if your cat doesn’t like the new litter, they won’t use it!
5. Groom your cat regularly
Use a tool with a stainless steel comb, like the Furminator, to effectively remove loose fur from their undercoat. Brushing your cat every other day can significantly reduce the amount of fur that ends up on your couch.!
A silicone pet brush or pet glove can also do wonders for collecting loose hairs from your cat and furniture. The fur sticks to the rubbery surface making it very quick to wipe up fur from your sofa.
6. CBD oil
Excessive furniture scratching and furniture soiling can also be a symptom of high anxiety in cats, particularly when they are also displaying other anxious behaviours such as constant meowing, aggression, hiding, clinginess, or low appetite.
If you suspect your cat is displaying anxious behaviour, CBD oil might help. Administering CBD oil can be done with a dosing dropper when your cat is calm. If your cat is skittish, some owners find that wrapping their cat in a towel can help keep them calm and still while administering the CBD oil.
Keep in mind that although CBD is widely available in most US states, there are still some laws prohibiting the purchase and possession of CBD. Make sure you are clear on your state’s laws before pursuing this option.
7. Vinyl nail caps
Declawing your cat should never be an option. Declawing doesn’t just remove the claws; it amputates the last bone of every toe. The result is a higher risk of health problems, chronic pain, impaired balance, and can introduce whole host of other undesirable behaviours, like urinating outside the litterbox and hostility. The procedure is so inhumane it is banned in 22 other countries.
Try vinyl nail caps instead – these are soft covers that are glued over your cat’s nails. Your cat will continue their scratching behaviour, but the vinyl covers will prevent any damage to the furniture. The caps naturally fall off after four to five weeks as their nails grow.
The downside is that not all cats adapt well to them. They may also prove difficult to apply if your cat doesn’t like to have their paws touched. Your vet may be able to help you apply them, but keep this option as a last resort.
By using a few of the above strategies, training your cat to leave your sofa alone is entirely possible. Keep in mind that it may take time for your cat to learn which furniture is theirs and which is yours. But with a little patience and consistency, your cat and sofa can have a harmonious existence together.
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