Scratching is a natural behavior for cats, so they don't understand why humans get so bent out of shape when they claw that tempting couch, door jamb, or carpet. They're simply doing what nature tells them to do to remove old claw sheathes and mark their territory.
Unfortunately, inappropriate scratching earns many felines a trip to the vet for declawing, which is the equivalent of amputating your fingers at the knuckle. Declawing is illegal in many countries, but it's still a popular option in the United States.
You've got many alternatives before resorting to drastic surgery. These four products are all great options to protect your house and let your cat keep her claws.
Scratching posts are the most common way to redirect a cat's scratching instincts to something appropriate. They come in a wide variety of materials, from carpet to sisal to cardboard. Some, like Clawskinz scratching posts, are even eco-friendly, allowing you to buy a replacement covering instead of a whole new post.
People sometimes complain that their cats won't use scratching posts. I'm a big believer in trying out different materials, since some cats have a marked preference and it's a matter of finding out what that is.
I also have multiple posts in my home. There's a scratching post in every room that has tempting furniture, and I have posts topped with platforms and sleeping baskets, as they seem to have special appeal to my cats.
Scratching pads are similar to scratching posts, but they sit on the ground and let your cat stretch out as it scratches. Some cats prefer this position to boosting themselves up on a post, and many (like mine) enjoy both options.
Most scratching pads, like Imperial Cat Scratch 'n Shapes, are cardboard, although some, like the SmartyKat ScratchNip pad, are sisal. My cats love both varieties and use them as places to lounge as well as to claw. Many are enhanced with catnip, which increases their appeal and helps lure your cat to the appropriate scratching option.
If your cat will use scratching pads, they're a great alternative in spaces where you don't want a big scratching post. I also like to have them in the same room with posts as an alternative, since I have multiple cats who like to compete.
Double sided tape is a great way to deter cats from scratching furniture because they hate the sticky texture. It's not too noticeable if you use clear tape, or at least it looks better than a shredded sofa. You can stop using it once you're taught your cat that upholstered goods aren't fun places to scratch and have provided better alternatives.
Although regular double sided tape works, I like to use Sticky Paws, which comes in convenient strips or dispensers. A combination of Sticky Paws and nearby scratching posts has saved my furniture, even with four indoor cats in the house.
You don't have to use double sided tape forever. It took me about six months to deter my cats fully to other options. Now they never touch the furniture because they prefer the nearby scratchers.
Most anti-scratching strategies work by giving cats alternatives to furniture and other inappropriate household items. Nail caps like Soft Claws take a slightly different approach. They safely cover the claws so there's no damage, even if your feline attacks your brand new living room set.
Nail caps are glued over your cat's claws. They eventually come off naturally with nail growth, and you apply a new set. They last up to six weeks before they need replacement.
Soft Claws makes their nail caps in designer colors and styles, so your cat can have fancy claws if you're so inclined. They're also available in clear if you prefer a more subtle approach.
Your cat will still want to scratch when wearing nail caps, even though she can't do any damage, so you'll still want to provide an appropriate alternative to get her into the mindset of using a post.