Playing the piano can be a lot of fun, but it’s hard to do when you have pets. Cats are especially problematic because their claws have the potential to damage the piano. They love to hop onto high surfaces and crawl inside small spaces; everything a piano provides.
Being a cat owner myself I thought it would be helpful to share my methods for protecting my piano. Below is a list of 7 helpful tips to keep your piano shiny, scratch-free, and your cat happy.
1. Use A Piano Cover
First and foremost, every person who has a pet needs to get a piano cover. Especially dealing with cats, piano covers can preserve the life of your instrument. Here are a few benefits to using a piano cover:
- Prevents scratches and claw marks
- Protects cat hair from damaging the finish of the piano
- Allow layer of protection from pet stains
- Helps insulate the piano from temperature changes
Piano covers can range anywhere from simple velvet dust covers to more protect polyester. Because we’re dealing with cats and potential scratches, it’s best to go with something that is not easily torn, well threaded, and also liquid-resistant.
There are several types of covers that can protect the outside of the instrument, the strings, and even the keyboard area. Because cats shed a lot, it can be helpful to invest in all of those covers to protect each part of the instrument.
As we all know, cats love to jump and run around. If you plan on giving your cat access to the same room that your piano is in, then a cover is absolutely necessary. Any jumping or hanging on the piano will be fine because the cover will be thick enough to prevent clawing and scratching. Without it, a deep scratch can permanently damage the piano.
While your cover may receive some damage, the instrument itself won’t with a cover in place.
Cats are known for their excessive shedding, especially in the summer months. A piano that is closed and covered won’t be full of those hairs. Cat hair that gets inside the piano can mess with the functionality fo the keys. This can lead to more expensive repairs in the future and even full replacements of the action.
If your cat is known to make messes or is not trained in the litter box, then your piano might become a dumping ground. Most piano covers are washable and won’t absorb those stains. However, if the stains were to find their way into the instrument or onto the wood, it could lead to swelling and permanent damaging of the finish.
Before purchasing a piano cover you should know the following:
- The length of your instrument
- Instrument model number
- The finish of your instrument
Many piano covers can be custom bought for specific instruments, so it’s helpful to know which model number you have. Knowing the length of the piano can help you with a proper fit. This not only applies to grand pianos or upright pianos but digital instruments as well. A typical piano cover costs between $100 – $400 depending on the size and quality.
2. Adjust Your Piano Practice Schedule
One way to protect your piano is to adjust your practice schedule. This includes when you practice, the type of music you play, and how long the practice lasts.
Cats are generally sleepy early in the morning, so this may be an opportune time to practice when they are less energetic. Practicing during your cat’s scheduled feeding session is also a great time to practice. while they’re preoccupied with food your playing some of your favorite Chopin and Brahms.
If it’s late at night consider playing softer music that won’t disturb your cat. It might not be wise to play your favorite pop music or intense classical music if it’ll wake your cat out of its sleep. Think about how your cat operates throughout the day and adjust the practice schedule accordingly.
Another idea is to schedule your piano practice around the cat’s playtime. Try to understand your cat’s tendencies and never play when they are hyper or wanting your attention. This can lead to your cat jumping into your lap while you play. Worst case scenario your cat jumps inside your piano out of curiosity.
In general, I would not suggest playing the piano in the same room that your cat is in. Look for opportunities to play when your cat is roaming outside or in their favorite play area in another part of the residence.
If your cat is calm for short periods, then it may be okay to practice in small bits as well. The minute your cat becomes agitated, you risk damage to your piano.
3. Limit Your Cats Access To The Area
Limiting the cat’s access around the home is not always an easy decision, but it’s often necessary.
Cats are wired to be free and want to explore everything. Unfortunately, they can’t do this when an expensive instrument is at risk of damage. Imagine a cat jumping inside of the piano clawing at the strings and leaving fur everywhere; not good! For this reason, it’s important to limit your cat’s access to the room that your piano is in.
If that’s a guest room or office space, then it’s best to leave the door closed at all times. There’s a chance the cat may claw the door out of curiosity when they hear you practice, but doors are easily repairable. In fact, you can use plastic door covers like these to also preserve your door too.
4. Use Motion Sensor Spray
Using motion sensor spray is not my favorite method for keeping a cat in check, but it’s highly effective. Motion sensor sprays work by identifying a cat’s movement. When the cats come within a certain vicinity of the spray, a loud mist or sound will erupt.
This can cause a cat to run away frantically or become perplexed and steer clear of the area. The more a cat interacts with a motion sensor device, the less likely they are to want to repeat that interaction. This is helpful if you want to allow your cat access to the same room as your piano, but discourage them from coming anywhere near your valued instrument.
The most well-known motion sensor spray is SSSCAT by Petsafe. It releases a short hissing noise, loud enough to startle your cat and deter them from the area. Initially, your cat may run away scared from your piano, but eventually, they’ll grow accustomed to the noise. This is a great way to train them without restricting their access to rooms in your home.
5. Close The Piano
While the outside of the piano is important for cosmetic reasons, the inside is the most important. Inside that huge wooden casing are all the inner workings of the piano. The hammers, strings, dampers, and thousands of working parts to produce wonderful music.
If your pet were to come into contact with any of those delicate parts, then your piano could be ruined. This is why you should always play the piano closed when the pet is in the room. While the sound is not as desirable, the longterm benefits are worth it.
Cats are especially problematic because of their claws. They could easily dig grooves into the piano soundboard; the part responsible for producing the wonderful sound. A damaged soundboard could result in a ruined piano needing a complete rebuild. Strings could be snapped if your cat jumps inside and that could actually be dangerous for them too!
Cats are known for their excessive shedding. Those hairs are more likely to enter the piano if it’s open. Cat hairs can cause the keys to becoming sluggish and the inside to become dirty.
So, as a rule, keep the piano closed whenever possible. The last thing any pianist wants to see are claw marks, loose litter, paw prints, and broken parts on the inside of their piano.
6. Clean The Piano Regularly
Even if your pet is not in the same room, loose hairs and dirt can still find their way on or inside your piano. To help keep your piano in great shape and protected, you should clean it regularly.
Depending on the finish you could use some of these cleaning tips for ebony finish pianos.
For a more comprehensive piano cleaning guide, read this article.
7. Train Your Cat To Stay Away From The Piano
Training cats is one of the toughest things to do. Unlike dogs, cats need immediate responses to their actions in order for them to associate with things. This is why it’s helpful to have items like motion sensor spray, repellent sprays, and other systems in place.
Another item you can use is a scat mat. These are training mats that help your pet to stay away from the area. This one, for example, has blinking light indicators so you can see just how often your cat is approaching your piano. The mat releases a small amount of static which correct your pet’s behavior. If you happen to have a cat that is persistent, then you can turn the levels up to high.
This works well for the piano and you could even place the mat directly on the instrument too. Anytime your pet comes into contact with it, the static turns on until they leave the area.
Another way to train your cat is to reward them for good behavior. Using treats to reward them for not going near your piano can work well.
Adjusting your cat’s feeding schedule can also help protect your piano. You could always choose to feed them during your practice time. Cats will start associating you sitting down at the piano as a signal that it’s time to eat.
Whatever you decide to do when it comes to protecting your piano from pets, there needs to be consistency. Make sure that your practice schedule aligns well with your pet’s schedule. If they are not on your schedule, then make the necessary adjustments.
Always make sure your pet has plenty of playtime and understands the rules surrounding the piano. There must be activities or devices in place to deter them from going near your instrument. If you choose to let your pet be near your instrument then they have to be disciplined.
Training pets can take time, so the best course of action in the short term is to get a quality piano cover. In the meantime, separate your pet from your piano as much as possible until they are ready to be in the same room.