How To Keep Your Cat From Scratching Furniture

Cat PawCats are one of the most low-maintenance household pets available. They are self-cleaning, use a litter box, and don’t require walks or weird food. The one thing that cats can’t do on their own, however, is trim their nails. Even if a cat has good control over their claws and doesn’t use them on their housemates, they are still bound to get stuck on furniture, carpet, and any other fabric that they may breeze over. Cats may scratch at furniture for a variety of reasons, including stretching and claw discomfort.

In order to keep your cat from scratching up furniture, it is important to know why they are doing it. Cats enjoy scratching for a variety of reasons; not just as a way to rebel against the human overlords.

The main reasons why cats scratch furniture and carpet are:

They are marking the area. Cats are very scent-driven and have stronger noses than most dog breeds. They have scent glands on different parts of their bodies, including the face and in the paws.
They are cleaning their nails. Just like humans, cat’s nails continuously grow and end up with a dead outer layer on their claws. By scratching, this dead layer is rubbed off and no longer bothersome.
They are stretching. By pulling at their whole body from their claws, cats can get a full body stretch. They enjoy the feeling of flexing their feet and claws.

You’ll never get your cat to stop scratching completely, but you can redirect the scratching to a more appropriate medium. The first step to redirecting the scratching involves observing your cat. Your goal is to figure out what your cat scratches, when they scratch, and how they like to scratch. Does your cat like to scratch up a particular couch? Do they scratch when they get excited? Do they prefer vertical scratching, like up a couch, or horizontal scratching on the carpet?

Once you’ve figured out your cat’s patterns, you can begin to dissuade them from inappropriate scratching. Cats don’t respond to negative reinforcement in the ways that dogs do; they won’t learn that no means no. You have to be a lot more tricky when trying to change a cat’s behavior. Basically, you’re going to want to try to shift your cat’s scratching from household objects to a scratching post.

You’re going to have to trick your cat by making the surfaces that they enjoy scratching less desirable. You’ll have to do this by installing uncomfortable textures and smells to the spots that your cat loves to paw at.

Cover the areas with cat-repelling textures. This could be aluminum foil, sandpaper, or sticky tape. The stick trick is a well-known way to keep your cat from scratching or jumping up on surfaces that they shouldn’t be on. Just roll a piece of tape over onto itself into a loop of stickiness, and apply all over the areas that your cat scratches at.

Surround the scratching areas with smells that cats hate. Since cats’ sense of smell is so strong, a foul odor can really repel them from even their most favorite spots. Cats tend to hate citrus and menthol, so making a repellent containing vapor rub or lemon juice could work. You can try soaking or coating cotton balls in these types of scents and keeping them on the areas that you don’t want scratched.

Cat scratchingOnce you’ve set up the cat deterrent, you’ll need to provide an alternative place for your cat to scratch. Scratching posts are not expensive and available at any pet store. When you observed how your cat likes scratching, did they prefer upright scratching, horizontal scratching, or both? Depending on your cat’s preference, you can decide whether to purchase a stand-up post or a floor pad.

In order to attract your cat to the scratching post, you’ll need to continuously revert them to the post once they seem like they’re in a scratching mood. If you see them approach their old favorite scratching spot, you should pick them up and bring them over to the new post. If they don’t seem to get the hang of it right away, you could try sprinkling some catnip over the scratching area to attract their attention. You may have to leave the cat deterrents up for weeks or even months to completely change the behavior, so don’t assume that your cat is ready to give up the couch once they start giving the scratching post attention.

Other ways that you can help to teach your cat to use a scratching post include:

Positive reinforcement: Reward your cat with treats and affection once they’ve used the scratching post and not the carpet.
Put the posts in convenient locations: You’ll want a scratching alternative in each room that your cat frequently scratches in. This could be a full blown cat tree or just a tacked piece of cardboard. You want to make it easy for your cat to make the right choice.
Keep teaching: If you catch your cat scratching the couch or whatever else you don’t want them scratching, make a startling noise like a loud “No!” or a clap to teach them that it is a no-no zone. Never hit your cat or punish them after the act is finished or they could start to be afraid of you.

As if we need to say it, keeping your cats’ claws trimmed will help prevent harmful scratching. You can also invest in nail caps to prevent your cat from shredding furniture. Cats simply want to do what comes naturally to them in the easiest way possible, and by providing them with a healthy scratching outlet, you are inviting them to do the right thing and behave appropriately. With patience and practice, your cat will never be a couch scratcher ever again!