Whether you are worried about your sofa, your bed or your table, you need to teach your cat to stay clear from your furniture if you don’t want to end up with scratches, claw marks and a bunch of cat hair. There are a few tricks on how to keep cats off furniture, but the key is to understand why your cat plays on your furniture.
If your cat is scratching out of boredom, making sure that your cat has enough cat toys and entertainment can be enough. This usually works for most pet owners and their felines. However, if the reason is instinctive, then you will have to work a little bit to teach your cat that her behavior is unacceptable. So here are a few good tips on how to keep cats off furniture.
How to Keep Cats Off Furniture
Provide Good Care
Before you try to change your cat’s behavior, the best tip on how to keep cats off furniture is to make sure that your pet has everything that she needs to keep her occupied and happy. Cats will often “attack” your furniture out of boredom or out of stress, so keeping her happy and entertained can prevent her bad behavior towards your prized bed or sofa.
“Cats scratch for a variety of reasons: to maintain the health of their nails, to stretch out the muscles in their shoulders and back, to mark their territory around other cats, and to serve as an emotional outlet.” – Animal Humane Society
Cat scratching posts
Cats have a natural urge to scratch things in order to keep their nails nicely trimmed. If you see scratch marks on your furniture, that is likely the sign that your cat needed to do something about her long nails. Provide your cat with a scratching post, or a cat house with a scratching post in it, if you want to avoid scratch marks on your furniture.
Pet owners on a budget can also get alternative places (or in addition to scratching posts) for cats to sink their claws into, like boards or old furniture. There are even many small pieces of wooden furniture designed specifically for cats, which can be a good idea if she adores playing with your furniture. If she likes softer surfaces more, like your couch or your rugs, go with a carpeted post or maybe a proper cat tree.
A good trick on how to keep cats off furniture is to actually encourage your cat to use these items instead of your precious couch. To do that, you can spread a bit of catnip on that specific area or put some cat toys around them. Just remember that you can’t force your cat to use these items, so you need to be patient and give her time to adjust and learn. Trying to force her by dragging her claws onto it or yelling at her will likely have an opposite effect and make your cat avoid that particular area.
Playtime and cat toys
Speaking of alternatives, give your cat with enough toys so she doesn’t get bored. Get some toys that she can use on her own, as well as toys that require your involvement. It is also advisable to play with your cat every day to keep her entertained and active. If she is happy and content, she won’t go after your furniture to get your attention.
You can also try to make some room for your cat where she can play, whether it is an entire room, if just a space within it, or a corner. Keep all her toys and furniture in that specific space and when you play with her, do it in this area. She is less likely to invade your space if she has her own.
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Discourage Your Cat
One of the key tricks to how to keep cats off furniture is to make it anything you don’t want scratched less appealing for her. There are many ways to achieve this and you need to try different methods before you find the one that works. However, trying to force her to change her behavior by punishment is likely to have little or even opposite effect.
When it comes to advise on how to keep cats off furniture, punishment is the absolute worst way to do this. Avoid yelling at your cat, or putting her in a cage when she behaves badly, like when she comes at your furniture. You should practice positive reinforcement instead of negative, especially when the punishment you give her is such a stressful one.
“Punishment should be avoided, because it can cause fear and anxiety toward the owners or fear of handling and petting and, at best, will stop the undesirable behavior only when the owner is present.” – Gary M. Landsberg, DVM at MerckVetManual
Another thing to avoid is using a water spray bottle to keep your cat off the furniture. While it’s a popular method among many pet owners, other experts argue that it’s ineffective and that while this strategy can bring you some short-term results, it won’t help your cat learn to behave the way you want long-term. This will only stress her out and make her feel discontent towards you.
Remove the attraction
Cats will jump on your furniture or scratch it for many reasons, as I’ve already mentioned. But she will also do it in order to achieve a certain goal. For example, she can jump on a bed that is close to a window or climb on your kitchen counter to look for food.
If you eliminate these “rewards”, your cat will lose her reasons to get on your furniture. For example, you should keep your blinds closed on windows that are close to furniture to keep her from climbing in order to look out the windows. Alternatively, provide an easier and better way for her to get to the window if you’d like your cat to be able to get there.
You can remove additional padding from furniture when you don’t use it, like blankets or pillows. Your cat might enjoy that comfort, so make sure to not give her that option. You should also keep your kitchen surfaces free of food that can attract your cat. Most pet owners find these small tricks work best for how to keep cats off furniture in their home.
Make the furniture uninviting
On that same note remember that cats love the way that certain furniture feels, and if you change that, you can make your cat lose interest in that item. For example, you can line furniture with tinfoil since cats don’t like slippery surfaces at all. This is not the most ergonomic option for many pet owners, but you get the gist of it.
Another thing you can do is put a sticky tape on some of your furniture like tables and kitchen counters. Sticky feeling that your cat will get when she jumps on a piece of furniture will make her stay off it next time (after several attempts). However, don’t use this tape on leather furniture because you can damage it that way.
You can also put plastic mats on your furniture. These floor mats have small knobs on the other side, so if you turn it upside down, your cat will be uncomfortable and irritated. She will not be harmed, of course.
Use a repellent spray
There are numerous cat repellent sprays which are great for fabric surfaces. They are made from oils and other strong and uninviting scents that will repel your cats from your furniture. Cats leave their scent on furniture when they scratch it or rub their heads on it, and repellent spray will keep their scent away, so they won’t feel drawn to it.
You need to make sure to follow the instructions on the bottle if you don’t want to overdo it. Also, test the spray first on a small piece of furniture so you can be sure that it won’t damage its lining in any way.
Tricks and traps
Finally, if you need a way on how to keep cats off furniture, you’ll have to get creative – try to make some kind of traps that will scare her away without harming your cat. For example, you can put some pillows on the edge of the bed or couch and when your cat jumps up, she will fall off the furniture. Cats remember these things for a long time.
Another interesting way to startle your cat is with mousetraps. You can put a few of wooden mousetraps on the cushions of your couch and set them upside down. Then, put a blanket or some sheet over it to protect the cat. They should be heavy enough to protect her, but not too heavy because they will trip the mousetraps. When your cat jumps on the couch the mousetraps will spring up and scare your cat. That will probably be enough to keep the cat off your furniture.
Trim Your Cat’s Nails
Trimming your cat’s nails is a necessary grooming procedure and should not be done only as part of your bag of tricks on how to keep cats off furniture, but regularly. Sometimes even the scratching posts are not enough to trim her claws properly, and you should do it yourself. In fact, it is recommended to trim her nails every two weeks. Trimming and cutting your cat’s nails does not mean declawing your cat, which is a different thing and is not recommended by most experts.
“The ASPCA discourages declawing and tendonectomies because of the extreme pain that these surgeries inevitably cause. Both procedures are illegal in some European countries because they’re considered cruel to animals.” – WebMD
If you decide to clip her nails, you need to do it carefully and properly so you don’t damage your cat’s claws. You need to make sure that she is relaxed and comfortable and that she is not scared of the clippers. For example, you should choose a quiet room and use cat nail clippers in the air a few times to make sure that your cat is at ease with that sound. Otherwise, she might be startled and move, which can make you hurt her accidentally with the clippers.
Put your cat in your lap so she faces away from you. Take one of your cat’s toes in your hand and gently massage it until the nail extends. When that happens, trim just the sharp tip of the nail. Don’t cut the pink part of her nail, the quick, because that is where her nerves are blood vessels are. Don’t trim more than two nails in one sitting until your cat gets used to regular trimming. Finally, if you can also use cat nail covers. These are made of rubber and will prevent your cat from scratching your furniture. However, she will also not be able to utilize her nails for climbing, so keep that in mind.