Is your cat obsessed with scratching? Don't worry. It's natural. And necessary. Scratching helps your cat keep his nails clean, healthy, and sharp; stretches his shoulder and neck muscles; and de-stresses him.
But, of course, it can be less than ideal when your furry family member starts scratching up your furniture. Knowing a thing or two about cat behavior is the key to knowing how to stop cats from scratching your furniture.
Read on to learn more about why felines scratch and tips for how to keep cats from scratching furniture.
Why do cats scratch furniture?
Cats like to scratch. And many cats will scratch furniture when they don't have other outlets for their scratching needs. Scratching allows cats to stretch and maintain their physical health, as well as to mark their territory.
Cats will also scratch furniture when they are bored or anxious, or in an attempt to relieve stress. Although it can be frustrating, understanding the reasons why cats scratch furniture is key to developing strategies to stop it.
Declawing is not the answer
Declawing cats is a cruel and outdated practice, but unfortunately, too many pet owners still consider it a viable option.
However, declawing does not solve the underlying problem of cat scratching furniture. It also poses significant health risks for your cat, such as chronic pain, bleeding, and infection. In some cases, declawing can cause permanent lameness in cats.
For these reasons, it's important to consider other strategies to stop your cat from scratching your furniture. You can find plenty of humane alternatives to declawing.
Claws are sharp, and with enough pressure, they can cause significant damage to soft materials like leather or fabric. To help protect your furniture from scratches, trim or cap your cat's nails. If you consider feline nail trimming a do-it-yourself job, then you should use nail clippers specifically designed for cats.
Begin by gently restraining your cat and inspecting their claws. Make sure to identify the quick — that pink part of the nail that contains nerves and blood vessels. When you trim the nails, only clip the very tip of the nail. Avoid the quick, which if cut, can be painful for your cat and lead to bleeding.
If your cat is uncooperative or too stressed to tolerate your efforts at a pedicure, take them to a veterinarian or groomer for professional nail trimming.
Provide scratching posts for your pet.
You can invest in a durable, cat-friendly post, or you may even make your own scratching post from simple materials like PVC pipes and carpeting! Scratching posts and cat trees come in various sizes and materials, including carpet, sisal rope, or cardboard.
When you introduce the scratching post to your cat, show them where it is and how to use it. Place catnip on the post or rub it onto their paws to encourage them. It may take some time for them to get used to it, but once they do, they’ll prefer the scratching post over your furniture.
Experiment with cat toys or catnip.
If your cat enjoys scratching furniture, it’s important to provide them with an alternative that is just as enjoyable. Cat toys are the perfect solution. Use catnip to encourage your pet to play with the toy rather than your couch.
Create a feline-repellent spray.
One of the most effective ways to stop cats from scratching furniture is to create a deterrent spray. Mix one part white vinegar with one part water in a spray bottle. Add plenty of fresh lemon juice and a sprig of rosemary — both smells that cats hate but humans may enjoy. Spray this mixture onto furniture or areas where you don’t want your cat to scratch.
The citrus and vinegar smells will act as a deterrent and discourage your cat from scratching that area. This spray is especially effective to stop cats from scratching leather furniture, as it will not damage the material. Only use the spray as a deterrent, however. Never spritz your cat directly because it can irritate the animal's eyes and nose.
Cover your cat’s favorite scratching places.
If your cat has already developed the habit of scratching your furniture, you’ll need to cover its favorite spots. Couch corners, for example, can be protected by tacking on a piece of thick fabric. If your furniture is made of leather, you can find special-made covers that fit snugly over the area to keep your cat away.
Remove the pleasurable aspect.
When cats scratch, they are doing more than just sharpening their claws; they are also claiming their territory and enjoying the sensation of stretching their muscles. One way to stop the scratching problem, apply double-sided tape or tinfoil to the furniture. The sound and feel of the tape or foil will make scratching less fun.
Admonish gently, and praise positive behavior.
Punishing your cat for scratching furniture is not the solution to your problem. Cats respond best to positive reinforcement, so be sure to praise and reward your cat when they use their scratching post instead of your furniture. That doesn't mean you can't protect your things, however.
When your cat starts to scratch the furniture, redirect their attention by lightly clapping your hands and saying “no” in a firm voice. Then, offer them an alternative such as a scratching post or a toy. Whatever you do, don’t hit or yell at your cat. Instead, focus on rewarding positive behavior.
Supplies to stop cats from scratching furniture
You can invest in a variety of products and supplies to discourage your cat from ruining your beloved pieces.
One product is a scratch pad, which features different surfaces, like sisal and corrugated cardboard, as well as an interactive ball and bell that encourage healthy scratching behaviors and keeps cats occupied.
A scratching pad also includes an organic catnip pouch to further entice cats to use the pad instead of furniture. Additionally, you can get cool cat scratching posts to encourage your pet to use their post instead of your furniture. There are many designs available, from traditional posts to posts with dangling toys or textured posts. Whatever you choose, just make sure the post is stable and tall enough for your cat’s size. This way, they’ll be more likely to use it than the furniture.
With these tools in your arsenal, you’ll be able to protect your furniture while also satisfying your cat’s needs. Shop our scratcher, designed for cats who like to scratch for play or exercise!