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What could be considered destructive behaviour in a cat? Watching your cat tear up the sofa, scratch the furniture or chew on the carpet might make you think you’ve got a destructive cat. However this kind of behaviour isn’t usually a cause for concern, and although your cat might be physically destroying things it is actually demonstrating an instinctive behaviour. Whilst this is natural behaviour for your cat to exhibit, it is nonetheless undesirable for both you and your furniture.
What causes scratching behaviour?
Cats scratch furniture with their claws for several reasons –
- To remove the outer sheath from their claws
- To stretch their muscles
- Territory marking by releasing a scent from the glands on the paws
- As a comfort or pleasurable behaviour learnt as a kitten to express milk – this process is called kneading
Deterring your cat from scratching the furniture
As you can see from this list of causes your cat isn’t deliberately ruining the furniture and it would therefore be unfair to attempt to stop this behaviour altogether. Instead try to draw your cat away from scratching the furniture by giving it items that it’s allowed to scratch. Scratching posts come in all shapes and sizes, and although they can be quite expensive it’s worth investing in one if it successfully distracts your cat’s attention. Choose a scratching post that is large enough to allow your cat to stretch while scratching. When bringing the post into the house, don’t force your cat to scratch it; instead try rubbing it with catnip and then placing in an accessible area of the house.
Cats don’t always take to scratching posts and even if they do they’ll probably still set aside some of their scratching energy for the furniture. Applying a cat scratch deterrent spray to the furniture may be enough to finally deter your cat. These sprays are completely harmless and simply contain odours that cats find unpleasant.
Remember to keep your cat’s nails trimmed down to minimise the damage it’s able to inflict on the furniture.
Chewing and sucking prevention
Cats sometimes chew and suck on clothes, blankets or cushions. This is actually a sign of affection and contentment and suggests that you’ve got a very loving cat. If you notice your cat sucking or chewing something it isn’t allowed, then quickly switch it for an old scarf or blanket that can then become your cat’s very own sucking blanket.
Eating and chewing on household plants
Cats sometimes eat plants and grass to stimulate regurgitation, often to expel fur balls. Spraying the household plants with the anti-scratch spray should deter your cat. Grow some grass in a tray and keep it in the house for your cat to chew on instead.
These changes should bring your cat’s unwanted and destructive behaviour under control, however if these methods did not prove successful you should consult your vet for further advice.
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