DEAR JOAN: Although most of the suggestions you made are good, please pass on a few additional tips to your readers to help train and prevent cats from scratching on furniture.

Just like in real estate, it's all about location, location, location. One of the reasons cats scratch is to mark their territory, but often times, cat owners want that ugly scratching post or box hidden away in the corner of the room, while the cats want to mark more prominent areas such as that corner of the couch that everyone can see.

So put the scratching posts where the cat wants to scratch, at least in the beginning, and then very gradually move them to a less objectionable area in the room.

A good scratching post in the right spot can keep your cats from destroying your furniture.
A good scratching post in the right spot can keep your cats from destroying your furniture. (Craig Kohlruss/Fresno Bee)
Texture matters. As was mentioned in an earlier post, different cats may prefer different types of scratching posts, and they need to be sturdy enough and heavy enough to not tip over. In general, the sisal rope-wrapped types are usually more attractive to cats than carpet-wrapped posts.

I've also had very good luck with the corrugated cardboard scratching pads, particularly the ones shaped like a ramp that allow your kitty to stretch up and out, just as if they were scratching on a log or tree in the wild. More is better. Use several scratching posts or pads in different locations in a room and in different rooms in the house. And just like litter boxes, more cats require more scratching posts.

If you're at the point of buying new furniture, get the cats trained to use their new scratching posts and pads first. When you do buy new furniture, go for smooth textured fabrics. Coarser weaves are much more attractive for scratching, and you are just asking for trouble. My old rough-textured sofa was clawed down to the wood frame, but the current sofa and chairs are over a decade old and have no scratches whatsoever.

Using a squirt bottle probably isn't that effective. Punishment needs to be consistent, and most folks aren't around enough or able to catch their cats in the act every time. It's better to give cats the right scratching post, in the right place, to accommodate their natural behavior. Hope this will help readers save their furniture, and their cats.

Dr. Renee, retired veterinarian
Bay Area