How frustrating is it when your cat scratches your furniture?
Your immediate response might be to yell. After all, you don’t want your cat to cause any more damage to your furniture.
But, yelling will upset your cat. They won’t understand why you are so angry. Instead of making them stop scratching, you might make them scared of you.
There has to be a better way!
Don’t worry, there is. In this post, we will look at why cats scratch furniture and what you can do to keep them from scratching (without scaring them away from you).
Why Cats Scratch Furniture
No, cats don’t scratch furniture to upset you. They don’t intentionally look for your couch or expensive curtains to destroy.
Scratching is a natural instinct for cats. Cats scratch for a variety of reasons including:
- Stretching- Cats use furniture to stretch their arms and backs. During this process, their nails can get caught on the material and they might accidentally scratch the furniture.
- Play- Cats can accidentally scratch during play. Sometimes cats grab on to furniture and scratch it to keep themselves entertained.
- Marking Territory- Cats also scratch items to mark territory. When they scratch, they leave behind a scent to show they claimed the item as theirs.
- Sharpening Claws- Cats can also use furniture to sharpen their claws. When their claws become rough or worn out, they use scratching to remove the outer layer revealing the new, sharp inner claw.
As you can see, cats scratch for many reasons. They don’t scratch to make us angry or to destroy our furniture. But it is still frustrating when our pets destroy our things.
So what can you do to keep them from damaging furniture while still allowing them to express their natural instincts?
How to Stop Your Cat From Scratching Furniture
As you train your cat, remember to be patient. Scratching is a natural instinct for cats. They might have an attachment to a specific piece of furniture, so it can take some time to get them to scratch something else.
- Offer scratching posts- Cats need to scratch. You won’t be able to train a cat to stop scratching completely. But, you can offer a scratching post so they will use this instead of your furniture. As you first start to train your cat, place a few different types of scratching posts around your house. This will help you learn what type your cat is attracted to. Maybe they like long vertical posts. Or, maybe they prefer flat posts they can pick at. Either way, take note of the post they like and buy more of that kind.
- Teach your cat to use the post- Just buying a scratching post isn’t enough. You also need to train your cat to use the post. Show them by using your own nails to scratch the post. If they are hesitant to try the scratching post, use catnip or a toy to attract them. Be sure to praise your cat every time they use the scratching post.
- Place scratching posts near furniture– Once your cat starts using a scratching post, place it near their favorite piece of furniture. When they go towards the furniture, they will see the post and will (hopefully) use the post instead.
- Provide toys– One reason your cat scratches furniture is to keep themselves entertained. Make sure your cat has enough toys to play with. If your cat has a variety of toys, they might decide to play with these instead of scratching the furniture.
- Trim their nails– Sharp claws can cause serious damage to furniture. Make sure you regularly trim your cat’s nails, with the proper tools, to minimize the destruction they could cause to your furniture. Check out our guide to learn how to trim your cat’s nails.
- Deter them from scratching furniture– Try placing a cover or double-sided tape on the items you don’t want your cat to scratch. Also, you can consider clapping loudly or spraying your cat with water when they scratch furniture. You should use these deterrents as a last resort because your cat might associate the loud noise and water with you, not with scratching the furniture.
What NOT to Do
As you train your cat to use a scratching post, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Don’t force your cat to use the post– At first, your cat might be hesitant to try the scratching post. This is a new and unfamiliar item to them. You might be tempted to hold their paws and help them scratch the post. But, this will be uncomfortable and could frighten your cat, which might make them avoid the post altogether.
- Don’t remove a worn out post– After a while, your cat might destroy their scratching post. It might look tattered, so you think about throwing it away. Cats actually prefer to scratch torn up items, so you should keep this post around. It could be their favorite scratching item and will keep them from returning to your furniture.
- NEVER declaw your cat– Declawing might seem like the obvious solution to this problem. But, declawing is actually a painful process for cats. Instead of just removing their claws, their last digital bone, claw, and nail beds are all removed, in other words an extremely barbaric procedure that no cat should have to endure. Declawing is actually illegal in many parts of the world.
Now you know that scratching is a natural instinct. Cats scratch to mark their territory and remove worn out nails. As a responsible pet owner, you should provide your cat with something to scratch.
Of course, we don’t want our pets to scratch our furniture. Spend some time training your cat to use a scratching post instead. Once you figure out what type of post they like, place a few around the house.
Have you trained a cat to use a scratching post? How was the experience? Share your story with us in the comments below!