It scratches, it destroys, yet we all love it! Yes, we love our little furry felines no matter how destructive they are. When it comes to scratching behavior, it is very normal. Cats are natural scratchers. They’ve been doing it for centuries, and it’s as normal to them as sleeping is. But if you don’t stop them from scratching your furniture, they can end up ruining it completely.
Fortunately, it’s easy to redirect this behavior with a few simple steps. In this article, you’ll learn how to stop your cat from scratching furniture in a way that’s both healthy and safe for both you and your cat. You can’t just push them and stop the scratching. Then how do you change this behavior?
Before looking into solutions, you must learn the reasons behind it. So, let’s look at why cats scratch our furniture.
Why do cats scratch?
Cats scratch for a variety of reasons. Scratching is a natural behavior that cats use to remove the dead outer layer of their nails, mark territory with scent glands located at the base of their paws, and stretch muscles in their forelegs, shoulders, and back. Cats may also scratch due to stress, anxiety, boredom, or even pain.
- Cats’ front claws are designed to be retractable so that they don’t get caught on anything when the cat is walking around. But when a cat scratches an object like a tree or post, it partially extends its claws so that they dig into the surface and leave behind a visual record of its presence in the form of scratches or even blood if the nail catches on something hard enough.
- Stress-related scratching is often seen in multi-cat households, where competition for resources can be high. If there are too many cats in a home, each cat might not have enough space and attention from their owner. Scratching is one way they try to assert themselves and get what they want — more attention, playtime, and space.
- If your cat scratches frequently or if you notice any signs of anxiety or stress (e.g., hiding under furniture), contact your veterinarian for an exam to rule out any medical problems that could be causing these behaviors.
Why do cats particularly scratch furniture?
The cat, who has been watching all of this very closely, is thinking, “Why are you guys so upset? You have all these great scratching surfaces in your house! What more could you want?” The couch, almirah, chair, and even the wall are sturdy and contain suitable material for some deep nail-digging.
What more could you want?!
Cats are individuals, and they have different needs and preferences. So when it comes to scratching, they may not all be satisfied with the same surface or substrate. Every cat is different – some like scratching on the carpet, others prefer the sofa, and others like their claws to sink into fluffy cat trees or cardboard boxes.
We, as pet owners, need to observe our kittens and cats closely to determine if they find a particular material or surface enticing enough to latch onto or if we should offer them a different substrate or post type.
How to stop your cats from scratching furniture?
1. Provide proper scratching surfaces
If you’ve ever tried to get your cat to use a scratching post, you know it’s not as simple as just putting one down and hoping for the best. Cats are instinctive climbers and prefer vertical scratching posts over horizontal ones. This means that the post needs to be sturdy and tall enough for your cat to have a good stretch.
It also needs to be balanced, so it doesn’t wobble when your cat uses it. In addition, a recent study shows that most cats prefer rope or sisal-covered posts instead of carpeted ones, although a few cats prefer carpeted ones.
You need to place the scratching post in some place where your furry friend loves to stay longer. You can also use tree branches and logs as cats like climbing the tree so much.
If your cat has an orthopedic condition, getting them to use a horizontal scratcher or a vertical post can be difficult. They want to scratch on the floor, not high up!
Encourage them to use these items by trying these suggestions:
- Place the scratcher or post on top of a piece of carpet covered with an anti-slip rug pad. This will make it easier for them to climb onto the surface and allow you to save some money by not having to buy another scratcher or post.
- If you have multiple cats, try alternating the surfaces that are available for scratching with each other. For example, if one cat prefers horizontal scratchers and one prefers vertical posts, put both out at once, so they’ll have more than one option available when they’re ready to scratch!
2. Train with toys and snacks
Help your cat learn to use the scratching post by playing with them or feeding them treats on it.
If you just put a scratching post in the corner of your living room and expect your cat to magically use it, you’re going to be disappointed. Cats don’t understand that they’re supposed to scratch there! Instead, we recommend trying one of two things:
- Play with your cat near the scratching post. When they start scratching furniture, gently pull them over to the post and praise them for using it. Do this about every hour for a few days until they figure out what’s what.
- Feed your cat treats near their new scratch toy. This is a great way to get them interested in something new – and once they figure out what’s happening, they’ll start using it all on their own!
Make sure you don’t try them to use the scratcher forcefully. They might never use it again. Be patient, lure them and teach them how to use the scratching post.
3. Use cat surface attractant
Feliscratch by Feliway is a pheromone that has been clinically proven to decrease or stop unwanted scratching, both on vertical and horizontal surfaces. Several studies have shown that when Feliscratch is applied to a post, the cats are attracted toward that post to scratch instead of other areas in your home.
This way, you can keep everyone happy—including yourself!
Cats are notorious for their dislike of citrus scents. If you’ve ever smelled cat spray, you know that they don’t necessarily smell like lemons, but the odor is often citrusy. So, if your cat keeps going after the furniture, try rubbing the orange or lemon peel on it. You can also try lemon-scented sprays. Choose a pet-safe product and know that you may have to spray often to achieve the desired effect.
There’s another way to keep your furniture from being scratched up by your cat and that is sticky tape!
You can use the tapes on any surface (like a table, chair, or shelf) to protect it from scratches. You just peel off the top sheet of the tape and stick it down where your cat likes to scratch. Then when the feline tries to scratch there again, it’ll feel the sticky feeling on its paws and move aside! But be careful that long-haired cats don’t get stuck to the tape!
And it is time to trim your cat’s nails!
Cats have sharp, retractable claws that they use for hunting and climbing. It’s normal for cats to scratch furniture, but excessive scratching can damage your home. Trimming your cat’s nails regularly can keep her from scratching your furniture and help prevent potential health issues.
How to trim your cat’s nails
1. Make sure your cat is relaxed before you start trimming her nails. If she’s feeling anxious, she may struggle while you trim her nails and become stressed out by the experience. To get your cat comfortable, pet her head and back while stroking her gently with one hand. Once she’s relaxed, give her a treat as a reward for good behavior.
2. Use a pair of nail clippers specifically designed for cats rather than human-sized clippers because they will fit better in the palm of your hand and are safer for cutting through thicker coats that provide more protection against injury from clippers designed for people.
3. Place one finger on each side of your cat’s foot between the pads and gently lift up the paw until you see the claws emerge from under the paw pad.
The last thought
Scratching is a natural behavior for cats, and it serves several purposes. Scratching allows your cat to stretch their back, work out the day’s kinks, sharpen her claws, mark her territory, and more. So rather than try to stop your cat from scratching altogether, it is better to provide multiple sturdy scratching options in every room of your home so that your four-legged feline friend can satisfy her urge to scratch safely and healthily.
Punishment doesn’t work to stop cats from scratching furniture, and it will only make them resent you. This can lead to behavioral problems down the road, so it’s best to try out positive reinforcement instead. Remember that you might have to employ several different methods for your cat to catch on, so be persistent and consistent-and you will eventually succeed.