In this article, we’ll discuss why cats scratch the furniture and 5 ways to stop a cat from scratching furniture. We’ll also talk about what NOT to do!
Cats scratching furniture is just as normal as meowing or purring. There are several reasons why they do this:
It’s stretching. Scratching the furniture allows a cat to fully stretch and extend their body, and also extend and retract their claws. Remember, cats are predatory animals. They have a primal desire to do this in preparation for catching prey.
It’s exercise. Also, cat like to stay limber, alert and strong to hunt prey.
They like it. Cats just enjoy the sensation of scratching, and unfortunately, your furniture is the perfect thing to scratch on according to your cat!
It helps them with claw shedding. Cats’ claws are constantly growing. Their old claws eventually fall off when a new one pushes through.
It’s a way to mark their territory. When a cat scratches something, it’s leaving feline pheromones behind. The pheromones are secreted from between the pads of their paws and can be detected by other cats. Other cats can obviously see the scratch marks in the furniture as well, so it’s another way of making themselves known.
How to Stop a Cat from Scratching Furniture
1. Give them a scratching post. This is the most effective solution to cats scratching furniture. Place the scratching post in an area of your home where your cat typically likes to scratch. If you can, try to get a scratching post that’s made out of a similar texture or fabric to what your cat has been scratching. Also realize there are two types of scratchers…horizonal and vertical. Choose the one that matches the type of surface your cat seems to like to scratch on. For example, if your cat typically stands on the couch and scratches on the cushion – a horizontal scratcher may work better. Whereas, if he prefers to scratch up and down the arms or side of the couch, a vertical scratching post might be better. You can see a nice variety of scratching posts here.
How to Teach Your Cat to Use the Scratching Post: Put the scratching post in a place where the cat typically likes to scratch. Whenever your cat scratches on the furniture, gently redirect him to the scratching post. Keep making that a positive experience for your cat, with your tone of voice, petting, and treats if he scratches the post. Constant and repetitive redirection to the scratching post should work. You also might try applying either feline pheromones or catnip to the new scratching post. Both will attract your cat to the scratching post and encourage him to use it.
2. Provide another alternative. A thick, knobby piece of carpet or throw rug might be something you could provide and allow your cat to scratch on.
3. Make wherever your cat is scratching on unpleasant for them. You could place double-sided sticky tape or tin foil on the furniture. Your cat won’t like the sensation of this. You don’t have to keep this as a permanent part of your home’s decor LOL. Just have this in place while you’re teaching your cat to use the scratching post instead.
4. Trim your cat’s nails regularly. You may have to have your vet’s office do this if your cat won’t cooperate. But it’s worth saving your furniture! And once your cat starts using the scratching post, trimming their nails won’t be necessary very often, if at all. You can read PetMD’s article about how and when you trim your cat’s nails here.
5. Use furniture protectors. Teaching your cat to use a scratching post rather than the furniture is best, but in the meantime, you may try using furniture protectors.
Don’t scare them away. The kind thing is always to teach your cat how to behave using proper training techniques. But as a last resort, you may try to startle your cat when you catch him scratching on the furniture by clapping your hands or making another loud noise. Be aware that this may have negative results. It may teach your cat to fear you and will likely be ineffective long term. Remember cats can get stressed out very easily, and that can lead to a whole bunch of behavioral issues.
Don’t use a scratch deterrent spray. This will just cause your cat to find somewhere else to scratch. Your best bet is to provide a scratching post and take the steps necessary to teach your cat to use it.
Do not declaw your cat. According to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), “Declawing is a violent, invasive, painful, and unnecessary mutilation that involves 10 separate amputations—not just of cat’s nails but of their joints as well. Its long-term effects include skin and bladder problems and the gradual weakening of cats’ legs, shoulders, and back muscles.” You can read their article with more details regarding this topic here.
Declawing can also lead to behavior issues in the future such as biting and aggression. Also, cats who have been declawed can experience pain in their paws for years – this can lead to their not wanting to use the litterbox because the litter hurts their paws (do you want your cat looking for soft places to pee, like your bed?)
For More Help with Cat Training
I can recommend two very good resources for cat training. One is UltimateCatSecrets.com. You can read my complete review of their program HERE. This program covers cat training, plus a variety of other topics regarding the care of cats.
Another is a Complete Cat Training Guide from KingdomofPets.com. This is a downloadable ebook that is jam-packed with information on how to solve 25 real-life cat behavior problems. It includes the best cat training techniques and step-by-step instructions.
Both of these cat training programs cost $37 and come with a full money-back guarantee.
Be Patient With Your Kitty!
Always be kind to your cat and never hit your cat or yell at them. Cats are highly intelligent animals. If you show them what you want them to do, they’ll generally comply. If you are loving, kind and affectionate with your cat, then your cat will love you. And because he loves you, he’ll want to please you. It’s our job as pet owners to show our pets how we’d like them to behave, in a way they can understand. I hope this article has helped! Please feel free to comment if you have questions.
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