You love your new sofa and your cat does, too. Unfortunately, Fluffy sees it as a giant scratching post. Cats scratch to remove their old claw sheathes and to mark objects with the scent glands in their paws, and they'll choose anything handy, including the couch or chairs. It's possible to protect your furniture from getting clawed to shreds by your cat without taking drastic measures like declawing. Although it may take some experimentation, or even a combination of measures, you can teach your cat not to claw the furniture and to prefer a suitable option.
Use double sided tape to train your cat. Cats dislike stickiness, so if you put strips of double sided tape on the areas of your furniture that the cat likes to scratch, he will quickly learn to avoid them. You can use any brand of tape, and many pet stores also sell a wide variety that is made especially to prevent cats from scratching. Once the cat learns not to scratch a certain area, you can remove the tape. It can be replaced if the cat starts to scratch again and needs a reminder.
Use claw caps. These caps, which can be ordered on the Internet (see Resources), are glued into place on a cat's nails. The caps are made of vinyl and protect any surface a cat might try to scratch. The caps typically stay in place for 4 to 6 weeks, then fall off with the natural growth of the cat's nails. When they fall off, apply a new set. Even if your cat tries to scratch your furniture, the caps ensure that there is no damage.
Offer better alternatives. Keep a scratching post near the furniture that your cat likes to scratch. When you see her getting ready to scratch the sofa arm, redirect her to the post. If you are using double sided tape on your furniture, the cat will probably go to the alternative naturally. Experiment to find the type of scratching post your cats like best. Some prefer carpet, while others like sisal rope, wood or cardboard. Some like a tall post, while others like one that they can stretch out lengthwise to scratch.
Keep your cat's nails trimmed. Although many cats dislike having their nails clipped, most will learn to tolerate it if you train them patiently and clip them consistently. Buy a pair of cat clippers from your local pet shop and make cutting your cat's nails a part of your regular grooming routine. Be careful not to cut the cat's quick or he won't trust you the next time you try to clip him.
If you accidentally cut your cat's quick when trimming her nails, you can use a commercial powder purchased from your pet store to stop the bleeding. If you don't have a special powder on hand, use cornflour.
It may seem tempting to have your cat declawed to eliminate all scratching problems, but declawing can cause its own set of behaviour problems. It's painful for the cat and doesn't stop the urge to carry out scratching behaviour. A cat can cause damage even when it "scratches" with its paws alone. It's much more effective to teach the cat to channel her scratching into appropriate outlets.