How to train your cat to not scratch furniture and other objects
As a general rule, even among cat lovers ,-people tend to think that cats cannot be trained. I whole heartedly disagree with this assumption. Training a cat is simply totally different from training a dog, a subject i claim to know nothing about since i do not speak dog language.
I do however speak cat language, and in order for me to be able to explain how you can train your cat to stop scratching furniture and objects that you obviously do not want full of claw marks and destroyed, i will have to start by explaining a little bit more in depth about cat psychology, and how to talk cat language, how and what a cat understands.
When you get a kitten, it is obviously going through some sort of "trauma" being removed from it's mother, it's security and comfort and loving care and teaching that it's mother has provided. Yes, cat mothers teach their babies things, just as a human mother will teach a human baby things. Cat mothers will carry their babies to a place where they will learn to do their poops and their pees, it will teach them to stay out of danger and carry them back to the nest when they wonder off too far. It will teach them to wash themselves and how to catch prey.
I realise that this is all within the limitations of where the kittens are born, a city cat in an apartment will obviously not have an opportunity to take it's kittens out on a field to catch mice and rats as a country cat will, still the same principle remains. Being taken away from it's mother, a kitten is mostly just regarded as cute fluffy thing doing funny things, and especially for people that have no previous experience of having a cat, certain type of cat behavior will suddenly come as an unpleasant surprise!
Scratching furniture and walls and other objects is one of the biggest and most unpleasant surprise to most, and can totally end up with people suddenly hating that cute fluffy thing that was just supposed to be cute.
Now, first thing to remember when taking a kitten is that now YOU become it's mother! It does not matter if you are a man or a woman, you become the mother to the kitten and from the word -go- it will be your responsibility what your cat learns and what it doesn't. You need to behave like it's cat mother with a few additions.
First of all, cats are very stubborn creatures, and unless you show and remind them from the start that you are the boss, the same rule applies as the saying goes about old dogs not learning new tricks. Old cats will not learn to not scratch unless you have taken that illusion away from the cat that it can, from the very start.
So first things first, every time your kitten does something that you do NOT want it to do (jump on to kitchen worktops, scratch furniture, chew cables a.s.o) you need to act like it's cat mother would, grab it by the neck and lift it away. Put your whole palm of the hand on the kittens neck and grab it by all that loose skin, (without digging your nails in its skin) and FEEL that you are holding it so that it's purely skin in your hand, no muscle structure, and then just LIFT it, bring it to your face and BREATHE a breath onto it's face, quite close.
All animals function to a very large extent with smells, and smells tells them who is in authority and who owns the territory. And that has got to be YOU from the start.
This way you have now shown double authority to the cat, by grabbing it's by it's neck as it's mother, plus imposing your smell as a way of telling -this is MY territory, you are not allowed! Then firmly go and put the kitten in a place where you give it the space of having ITS own territory. You WILL have to repeat this action maybe tens or even a hundred times, so you DO have to be patient, a cat WILL always try again, just as a kid will, plus they are curious and will always want to see what you do, so patience is the only key there is.
Now, when the kitten starts clawing on your beautiful couch and you hear those nails digging in to the fabric and feel a cringe along your spine, same rule applies, patience! First, grab the kittens paw or both paws so that you press with your thumb from the top of its paw, and a finger or two on it's "big toe" so that the kittens claws are left out. A cat cannot pull its claws back in when being pressed like this, and make sure you hold on for a while so that the cat starts pulling back its paw from you, and don't let go immediately. This does NOT hurt the cat, but remember that the claws are the cats weapons and the cat knows this intuitively. It does not like the feeling of not being in control of its weapons, and not being able to pull them back in. Most cats will miauw in protest when you do this and desperately try and pull their paw back. When you let go, grab the kitten by the neck, breathe in it's nose, and again, lift it to its own zone/territory where he/she is allowed to do as she pleases.
I have had some cats with whom this method has been ineffective, very few, but some yes. As all, cats are individuals too and therefore you have to occasionally find another method that will work. Another way i have found effective in teaching most of my cats what they are not allowed to do is simply by holding on to their tail at the very root. NOT yank it, not PULL it..just hold on to it and for 5-10 seconds do not let the kitten/cat move away from what it was doing. Again, the tail is very important to the cat, so for a little while you are taking control of it's sense of balance and navigation and so showing it your authority over that specific area. Remember ALWAYS to end every disciplinary action with grabbing it by the neck and moving it away.
Finally, always talk with your cat in a pitchier tone then you otherwise speak, so that the cat learns when you are speaking to him/her. In contrast to this pitchier tone that it learns to associate as the language between the two of you, teach it ONE word that you will use in a stern way when you are disciplining it. Always use that one word in the same pitch. For example, as you are holding it's paw to stop it from scratching, repeat NO in the stern voice.
All the best to your cat and you! Do NOT declaw your cat! It is cruel, against nature (if God would have wanted cats to be without claws he would have created them that way) and it is NOT needed! I KNOW, because i have had so many cats, and managed to teach every one of them in one way or another to not scratch my furniture and walls with these methods. When people come to visit me, i ALWAYS get comments on that there is not a scratch on my furniture? How do you DO that with three cats, they ask? Well, this is how!!