How to Stop your Cat from Scratching Furniture - 8 Tips

scratching post

You walk into the living room and you notice a brand new set of claw marks down the entire side of the couch. Your cat has scratched your favorite couch again. We love our cats and it can be frustrating when our cat’s claws ruin our favorite couch. Here is 8 tips to stop your cat from scratching your furniture.

Why does My Cat Scratch the Furniture

Understanding why cats scratch can help you in preventing this behavior. It is important to note that scratching is normal for your cat. They aren’t doing it intentionally to be mean or to annoy you. In the wild, cats scratch with their claws to remove the dead layers, and keep their claws sharp for hunting and climbing, which is vital to their way of life as a nimble predator.

Scratching is also a way of marking territory. Cats have scent glands between their claws, and the scratch marks are a sign to other cats that an area is occupied. So technically your cats are marking their territory by scratching your couch. Scratching also helps cats stretch and keep their bodies in good shape.
It’s a way of releasing their physical and emotional energy, which is why they often scratch when they’re bored or excited.

And finally, cats enjoy scratching! Like people, cats have various strategies for relieving stress, and scratching is one of them. So scratching itself is something you can’t stop. But you can have your cat scratch something else. We will explore in the next few minutes how you can employ several strategies together to stop your cat from scratching your furniture.

Choosing the Right Scratching Post

Providing the right scratching post that your cat likes to scratch is important. Scratching posts give your cats the freedom to scratch without destroying your furniture. You will need several of them that are strategically placed around your home.

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    Such as placing a cat scratcher directly in front of the thing they scratch the most! The key to having your cat use the scratching post is having the right material and design. For example some cats may prefer a vertical scratching post so they can do a full body stretch. Others may prefer a horizontal scratching post. Choosing the right material is also important. Most cats prefer the feel of a sisal rope scratching post, or natural wood as it closely mimics what they like to scratch in the wild — a tree! Some may also prefer cardboard.

    Each cat has their own preferences and you would need to find the right scratching post for your cat. It is a good idea to buy a few different types and observe which one your cat likes. Lastly make sure your scratching post is secure and not wobbly, otherwise your cat may continue to use the sofa.

    Trim Your Cat's Claws Regularly

    It may seem obvious, but trimming your cat’s weapons will cause less damage to your furniture. You should trim their nails every 1 to 2 weeks. And it is best to start this activity when your cat is a kitten so they get used to it. Choose high-quality and easy-to-use nail clippers. Cats' claws are round, so clippers with curved edges are much more comfortable since they apply pressure evenly around the whole nail.

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    Don't Punish Your Cat

    Don’t yell at them or spray them with a water bottle for their scratching behavior.
    You’ll only confuse and upset your kitty. Cats have a different perspective on their behaviors than people do. They do not perceive their own activities as “bad” or destructive. That’s a people thing. When you punish your cat for behaviors you find unpleasant, your cat will associate the punishment with whoever is delivering the message — not with his own behavior. Often this leads to him shying away from you. The people the kitties originally loved and trusted are now perceived as scary and hurtful.

    The problem with punishment is that it doesn’t teach the learner what to do and your cats will continue to scratch your furniture. Rather than punish your kitty, you can understand their point of view and work with them to create a new favorite scratching pad. Provide something that your cats like to scratch more than your furniture.

    Positive Reinforcement

    Rather than punish your cat you can use positive reinforcement. It is like having a kid. Forcing a kid to do well in school may not yield results, but motivating them to succeed may have positive outcomes. You want to encourage positive behavior from your cat by reinforcing good behavior like clawing at your scratching post versus undesirable behavior like scratching your furniture. Start by scratching the scratching post yourself. Then wait for your cat to mimic you. Cats are copy cats after all and learn from watching others. This is called observational learning. After they copy you and scratch the scratching post, immediately reward them with a treat. This will reinforce scratching the scratching post instead of your furniture and build a stronger bond with your cat. Cat’s respond so much better with positive reinforcement.

    Feliway Calming Spray

    Feliway is a calming spray for cats that mimics the pheromone that your cat naturally produces. It is a drug-free solution that helps reduce signs of stress in cats and scratching. You can use this spray directly on areas in your home where your cat marks with scratching such as the sofa. Simply clean the areas marked by your cat with warm water or mild soap, and then spray directly on the sofa. Re-spray daily to reduce the likelihood of re-marking. Using a Feliway spray can trick your cats into thinking that they have already marked the territory, and thus spare your furniture.

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      Make the Furniture Less Attractive

      There are a few techniques you can use to make the furniture less attractive for scratching. I am not a big fan of using sticky tape or anything that will make your furniture ugly. They are a lot of work to implement and I don’t believe they are a good long term solution. One option is to use a decorative blanket or sofa cover that your cat dislikes scratching. It is easy to implement and it looks beautiful in your home.

      Soft Nail Caps

      If your cat continues to scratch your furniture after trying the other methods, you can try soft nail caps. They glue on your cat's claws and are safe, easy-to-use, and last for approximately 4-6 weeks. They will eliminate the damage of scratching and are painless for your cat. I am not a big fan of this solution because it is not a long term solution and requires a lot of work for you to keep reapplying the soft nail caps. Use this method as a last resort.

      Never Declaw Your Cat

      Lastly you should never declaw your cat! Declawing is the amputation of a cat’s claw and bone from each toe. If performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle. Declawed cats are often chronically painful, and may develop aggression or litter box problems. It is one of the most cruel things you can do to a cat. Educated cat parents can easily train their cats to use their claws in a manner that allows everyone in the household to live together happily. Stopping your cat from scratching your furniture may require you to implement multiple strategies that we explored, but it is possible.
      See a video on how to stop your cat from scratching your furniture here:

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