It isn’t malevolence. All cats need to scratch surfaces to detach the outer layer of their claws, revealing newer growth underneath. If they don’t, their claws begin to grow into their feet — the cat equivalent of an ingrown toenail.
Cats also scratch to stretch their muscles and tendons, and to mark their territory.
The bottom line: Your kitty is going to scratch. But you can cut down on the damage with a few strategies.
Invest in a scratcher
Since cats have to scratch, give them something you won’t mind them slicing and dicing.
The trick to keeping your kitty away from your favorite chair is to find a scratcher your cat loves. Scratchers come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate different scratching styles. For example, if your cat likes to reach up to scratch, a vertical post would be a smart choice. If your cat likes to claw your rug, a horizontal scratcher is probably in order.
Scratching posts are also made of a variety of materials including cardboard, tree bark, carpet and rope. A little experimentation may be necessary to figure out which tactile sensation makes your cat purr.
To coax kitty to use the scratcher, spray it with catnip or demonstrate how to use it by scratching it.
It’s not a good idea to put your cat’s paws on the post and try to puppet your pet through the motions. Your cat may dislike the sensation and reject the post completely.
While kitty learns to direct those claws to the scratcher (and only the scratcher), you can protect your furniture with slipcovers. You can also cover or cushion corners with aluminum foil.
If you catch kitty in the act of clawing something forbidden, it’s okay to give a stern “no!” If your cat doesn’t get the message after three tries, keep a spray bottle handy and spritz your pet with some water.
Give your cat a pedicure
Clipping the tips of kitty’s claws weekly will keep them dull and help minimize damage. Be sure to use a nail trimmer designed specifically for cats.
You can also try to cover each of your cat’s nails with claw caps, which are tiny vinyl tips that make cat claws too dull to scratch. The caps stay on, with adhesive, for about three months.