I also recommend getting the type of litter box with a hood.  Cats like to do their business in private.  Just like humans -- they don't like an audience.  Place the opening of the hood towards the wall, corner or wherever for the cat's most privacy.

2.  How to train a cat to NOT scratch your furniture

So you have a cat.  In case you didn’t already know it, all cats need to sharpen their claws and they don't care what they use to accomplish that necessary part of their grooming regiment.  They may use the trunk of a tree, a deck railing, your wooden patio furniture or your brand new sofa.  While you may prefer the cat sharpen its claws on a tree, if the furniture is more convenient, that’s what the cat will use.  In order to keep the cat from sharpening its claws on your furniture, you must give it something different to use. A post covered with carpet can be purchased or you can make it yourself.  But will the cat use the sharpening post or your new sofa?

One way to train the cat to use the scratching post is to apply catnip to the carpet and the post itself, then place the post directly in front of where the cat tends to claw at the furniture.  The cat will be attracted to the catnip on the post and use that instead.  After a couple of days, slowly move the post away from the furniture, no more than one foot per day, in the direction of where you want that post to finally be.  If you move the post too far in one day, the cat may go back to the sofa. So only move it a short distance each day.  Depending on where you want the post to finally end up, it may take several days to shuffle it across the room.  Now the cat will use the post and not your furniture.

This trick absolutely works, whether or not the cat has scratched at your furniture in the past.

3.  How to train more than one cat

Maybe you have two or even more cats. 

One cat is very good about using a litter box.  The other cat wets on the carpet or perhaps an oriental rug or maybe even your very expensive sofa.

Maybe you've put out a scratching post or toy.  One cat uses it while the second cat sharpens its claws at your oriental rug, carpet or (again) your very expensive sofa.  Why Is This?

Actually, it’s a dominance and territorial thing. Cats are territorial, just like dogs and people.  Their stuff is theirs and does not belong to any other cat.  One cat is the top cat, the other one is the submissive element of the pride.  The top cat says “this is MY litter box and you can't use it!”  So the submissive cat goes elsewhere to do its business.  The top cat says “this scratching post is MINE and you can't use it!”  So cat number two sharpens its claws wherever it can.

You may not be too keen on the idea of one cat wetting on your carpet, rug or furniture.  At the same time, you just can’t understand why the bad kitty will not use the same litter box as the good cat.

You’re not happy that one cat is using your carpet, rug or furniture to sharpen its claws.  Neither can you comprehend why the naughty cat won’t use the same scratching post as the nice cat.

What you need to do is have one litter box for each cat -- but not next to each other.  You also need a second scratching post for the second cat in a different location.  See Sections 1 & 2 (above) to correct scratching or urinating where you do not want it.

You don't expect your kids to wear the same exact clothes on the same day, do you?  Neither do you expect everyone to use the same facilities all at the same time.  After all ... there are such things as "privacy" and "decency".  By the same token, if you have more than two cats, you may need a separate litter box and/or scratching post for each one.

The exact same principle applies to food dishes, water bowls and so on.  While some times cats will share, they do so reluctantly.  Cats really do not like to share food, water, toys or anything else with another cat.  Sharing indicates equality and, in the cat world if you are equal, you are not dominant.  Instead, in a cat’s world, the law of the wild says that #2, #3 and #4 must be submissive.  There can only be one top cat -- no matter how many cats are in the home.  The same goes for dogs: there can only be one pack leader, no matter how many dogs are present.  Yes I know ... "The Dog Whisperer" says that YOU -- and you alone -- are the pack leader.  And while that may be true, in reality, there is still a pecking order amongst the rest of the critters, no matter how many or which kind you have!  You must recognize that the hierarchy and operate accordingly.  Therefore, giving each one his own space, bowl and/or toys will promote harmony amongst the clan and generate less aggravation for you.

  4.  How to train a cat NOT to soil the furniture

Cats like to be up high.  Consider the big cats at the zoo or in the wild.  They prefer to perch on upper level rocks so that they can search for prey, watch for potential predators and, in general, keep an eye on the world around them.  Likewise, domestic cats like to climb up to most any place they can.  If you have a sofa or chair near a window, they will go to its highest point so they can look out the window.  Usually this means that the cat will sit on the top of the back of your furniture.

This also means that cat hair and body soils (sometimes saliva, sometimes urine dribbles, and possibly bits of food from their face or feet) will be deposited all over the cat’s favorite viewing deck. Mud, too, can be tracked onto your furniture if your kitty comes in from outdoors and goes straight to his or her favorite napping spot.

Trying to keep a cat off the top of a sofa is not only difficult, but frustrating to you, because the cat really needs to be there.  Believe it or not, there’s an easy fix.  Instead of being annoyed or frustrated with the cat's natural tendency to be high enough to survey its kingdom, leaving hair and soil where you don't want it, just cover the area with a towel!  When you have company, or someone wants to sit in that spot without getting cat hair on their clothing, simply remove the towel.  With so many different colors and textures of towels available, it shouldn’t be too hard to match the sofa.  Launder the towel weekly – or more often if it becomes soiled.

Personal Note:  My dogs love sit on the furniture, whether or not we're home.  And they especially love to snuggle while we're watching TV.  As you already know, cuddling is one of best ways to bond with your pet.  Our pups also like to sleep with us.  Now if you think it's easy having 2 adults and 4 cockers all in the same bed at once ... think again!  Nevertheless, we've learned that using soft throws over the sofa and chairs, or covering the bedspread with a spare sheet, is an easy way to keep the dirt and dog hair under control instead of engaging in a “battle of wills” every evening to see who stays on or off the furniture!  Using washable covers also helps to reduce sniffles if you just happen to be allergic to your furry friends.  Now if your pets are into "nesting" (rearranging the covers in order to be more comfortable), try using fitted sheets to cover the cushions.  They are easily replaced on laundry day.  And, should unexpected company arrive, the sheets are quickly removed to reveal a nice, clean, hair-free sofa.  Now your pooch can relax with the rest of the family.

But back to our little Puddy Tat.  Most cats like to knead their claws, so if they can do it in the towel instead of on your expensive sofa fabric, so much the better.

Another alternative is a cat tree or post that is covered with a piece of carpet or a towel.  Place it behind the sofa or chair, between the furniture and the window.  If the top of the post is higher than your furniture, the cat will naturally go to the upper elevations.  If the post is the same height as the sofa, the cat will still go to it because it’s closer to the window.  If there is more than one cat, make sure that there are multiple levels on the cat tree or post.  The cat who is “Top Dog” will always go to the highest point.  To avoid having a fight between your cats, make sure there are enough lower perches available for the second, third and fourth cats.  Keep in mind that, unlike human children, you cannot send cats to their rooms or give them a "time out" when they're less than perfect in your eyes.  You cannot successfully scold them for doing what comes naturally.  You cannot reason with them nor can you fight thousands of years of evolution and expect to win.  Instead, you have to find creative ways to ensure that everyone in your household can live peacefully side by side.

We hope that this info has given you a glimpse into how to overcome the challenges that automatically come with being a pet owner.  If you love your pet(s), and we know that you do, you'll find ways to keep your "family" happy. 

Hey ... if you find creative solutions that really work, let us know!  We'll gladly add a P.S. to this article!
This article was written by Gary R. Heacock.  After 40 years as one of Portland's premier carpet cleaners, serving private residences, commercial clients and even cleaning corporate jets, Mr. Heacock is now retired.  Still, he continues to write articles for trade magazines, as well as perfect his own web site, conduct training seminars for carpet cleaners of all experience levels and invent helpful cleaning aids.  Mr. Heacock's nationwide reputation elicits questions from carpet cleaners and manufacturers, alike, who seek his expert advise.  Mr. Heacock was amongst the first cleaners in the U.S. to promote "green" carpet and upholstery cleaning by using ground breaking biodegradable products.

Mr. Heacock is also a cat owner who has not only gleaned knowledge from his own experiences, but from his clients and animal behavorists, as well.
If there is no litter box in the house, and the cat spends a lot of time outdoors, and then suddenly begins to urinate in the house, it will usually select one room where it prefers to do its business.

In order to stop a cat from urinating on the carpet or furniture, put a NEW  litter box precisely where the cat prefers to do its business.  This is in addition to any other litter box that currently exists in the house.  For instance … if the cat is urinating on furniture, put the new litter box on the furniture in the exact location where the cat tends to piddle.  Sound disgusting?  You bet! Would "Better Homes & Gardens" recognize a litter box on the sofa as an innovative decorating idea?  Absolutely Not!  But then again, they wouldn't nominate urine odor for the "new fragrance of the year" award, either!
Gary R. Heacock

52909 E. Sylvan Way                 Sandy, OR  97055

Office Hours:  Monday thru Thursday  9:00 am - 5:00 pm
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As the cat begins to use the new litter box, move it slightly, such as placing it on the floor next to the furniture. Over the course of several days, move the new litter box a small distance each day.  The cat will continue using the litter box until you have moved the litter box to where YOU want it to be.

NOTE:  Keep the litter in the box clean and emptied frequently!  If the litter is not kept clean and odor free, the cat will go back to wherever it had been urinating before (i.e. the carpet or furniture).  Cats do not like those nasty odors any better than people do. This means emptying or cleaning it out DAILY -- not weekly or monthly – is imperative!  Not terribly inclined to handle the soiled litter?  There are newer-styled litter boxes that actually rake the clumps into disposable bags that are hidden from view.  This modern convenience will help to keep kitty happy while limiting your exposure to urine and feces.

To help control odors, add some Zeolite odor absorber such as No-Smell-Z powder.  This trick always works because the cat will prefer the kitty litter over the carpet or the furniture.
1.  How To Keep A Cat From Urinating on a
Carpet or Furniture

Whether or not there is a litter box for the cat in any location with the house, if a cat decides to urinate elsewhere, instead of using the litter box, it's very difficult (although not impossible) to stop the cat from doing so.
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