Cats scratch furniture due to their instinctual need to mark their territory, stretch their bodies, and remove the dead outer layer of their claws. But there are some measures you can take to discourage this behavior:
1. Scratching Posts and Boards: Provide plenty of alternatives in the form of scratching posts and boards. There are many types available, including ones that are horizontal, vertical, or inclined, and made from different materials such as carpet, sisal, cardboard, or wood. Place these near the furniture that your cat is currently scratching.
2. Training: Train your cat to use the scratching posts. You can do this by placing your cat's paws on the post to mimic the action of scratching. Try not to force them, as this might make them fearful. Instead, gently encourage them and reward them with treats or affection when they use the post.
3. Catnip: Apply catnip to the scratching posts to make them more attractive to your cats.
4. Furniture Covers: Use plastic, foil, or double-sided tape, which are textures cats don't typically like, on the furniture to deter your cat.
5. Regular Claw Trimming: Regularly trim your cat's claws to minimize the destruction caused by scratching. You can ask your vet or a professional groomer to show you how to do it safely.
6. Soft Claw Covers: There are also soft claw covers available on the market, such as Soft Paws, which can be glued to your cat's claws. These need to be replaced every 4-6 weeks, and should be used under the advice of a vet.
7. Spray deterrents: Use pet-friendly anti-scratch sprays on furniture. These sprays have a smell that cats dislike and can deter them from approaching the sprayed areas.
8. Positive reinforcement: Reward your cat when they scratch the scratching post instead of the furniture. This could be in the form of verbal praise, petting, or treats.
9. Feliway: Feliway is a synthetic feline facial pheromone spray that you can spray on the furniture. It is a scent that is calming to cats and may discourage scratching. There is a new version called Feliway Friends that is getting good responses.
10. Clear Sticky Strips: Place clear sticky strips on the corners and edges of the furniture where your cat likes to scratch. Cats dislike the sticky sensation, and this can deter them from scratching those areas.
Remember that punishing your cat for scratching can be counterproductive and could harm your relationship with them. Try to be patient and consistent, and eventually, your cat will prefer the alternatives to your furniture.