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How to Stop Your Cat from Scratching Furniture

Cat nails on blanket

 

Cats can add lots of fun and love to your life, but they can have some rather frustrating habits. For example, what do you do when your favorite frisky feline decides to turn your new couch into a scratching post? Or, even worse, you come home to find your cat scratching every piece of furniture they can dig their claws into?

Is your kitty bored? Stressed? Or maybe the scratch marks are a side effect of your cat's need to stretch. Whatever the reason, one thing's for sure; your cat's claws are wreaking havoc on your chairs, tables, and anything else they find appealing. Furthermore, you're tired of having scratched-up furniture, so what do you do?

Why Does My Cat Scratch The Furniture?

Knowing why your cat scratches the furniture is the first step in figuring out how to stop it. Cats scratch and shred fabric, cushions, hard surfaces, rugs, you name it, depending on what they find most satisfying. But your only hope of stopping the behavior is if you approach it from the right angle. 

For example, if your cat scratches out of boredom, you need to provide engaging alternatives and ample playtime. But, if your cat is simply enjoying a relaxing stretch that leaves them pulling their claws across the sofa, you need to make your sofa an unappealing place for your furry friend. Of course, a combination of solutions will likely work best (and lots of patience). So, why do you think your cat is scratching the furniture?

Is Your Cat Scratching Furniture Because They're Bored?

Cats have natural instincts to hunt and stalk their prey. But, domesticated cats no longer need to hunt for food, so they have to find another way to pass the time. Therefore, it’s crucial to provide your kitty with ample play, exploration, stimulation, and exercise opportunities. Otherwise, their boredom will show through in undesirable behaviors like scratching your furniture.

Your Cat Needs To Take Care Of Their Claws

Cats need to scratch to keep their claws healthy. They shed the husk on the outside of their nails and also sharpen their claws. So, it’s essential to give them things that they can scratch; otherwise, they’ll go for anything they find suitable.

Is Your Cat Scratching Furniture Because They're Stressed?

If your cat is anxious or stressed, they’ll let you know by showing it in various ways, including scratching furniture. Your cat might be frustrated that they can’t get to the other cats and exciting sites they see outside the window. Or, if you live in a multi-cat household, your cat could be stressed because there aren’t enough resources to go around. Or, perhaps, your cat needs more time and attention from you.

Your Cat Needs To Stretch

Cats love a good stretch, and this often involves extending their claws and dragging their paws. So, your cat likely inadvertently scratches anything they’re using to perform the ultimate stretch.

Your Cat's Claiming Their Territory

Cats are territorial creatures by nature, with tons of scent glands throughout their bodies. Some of these glands are on their paws, so they leave behind their scent when they scratch something. This marking technique tells other cats that this area is spoken for. 

cat in cat tree

How Can I Stop My Cat From Scratching The Furniture?

Okay, so now you know the possible reasons why you're always finding fresh claw marks in your furniture. Now, it's time to stop the cat scratching, so when your new couch arrives, it won't end up with claw marks of its own.

Training

Of course, one of the best ways to deter your cat from scratching your furniture is to show them what they can scratch--and do it when they're young. If you start teaching your cat the appropriate scratching locations when they're a kitten, they'll be less likely to form bad habits.

This means you need to supply your feline friend with suitable scratching alternatives like scratching posts, pads, etc. It's a good idea to try out several types to determine which materials your cat finds the most enticing. Some scratching posts feature sisal, others cardboard, and others have a combo of materials, and so on.

Scratching posts and other similar items give your cat an appropriate place to flex their claws. Plus, they also provide them with a place to care for their nails and relieve stress and boredom. 

Once you pinpoint some of your cat’s favorite scratching devices, get a few and place them in several locations around your home. These spots should be some of your feline’s favorite and most-frequented spots. Perhaps it's a window where your kitty loves to sunbathe, in front of the couch where they would typically scratch, and near a favorite sleeping spot so they can stretch after a catnip.

When your cat scratches one of the posts or boxes, instead of your furniture, give them a tasty treat and praise. This associates the behavior with something positive and tells your cat that they're doing what you want them to do.

cat with Neat-Lik Mat

Products To Help Keep Your Cat From Scratching The Furniture

Even with early training, your cat can find their way to a particularly scratch-worthy side chair or tantalizing table leg. So, you don't have to fight the fight alone; you can try several helpful products in addition to scratching posts.

Neat-Lik Mat

If your cat is scratching from boredom or stress, provide them with more suitable ways to express their feelings. The Neat-Lik Mat encourages your kitty to lick, releasing endorphins that help keep your cat calm. Plus, it’s fun and engaging, so your cat will stay occupied and stimulated in a positive way.

Feliway

Calming sprays and diffusers, like Feliway, can help your stressed kitty calm down by releasing synthetic versions of their pheromones that help your cat feel safe and secure.

Citrus Sprays

Cats don’t like citrus smells, so you can use this to your advantage and create a DIY cat repellent spray. In a spray bottle, mix three parts of water to one part of lemon or orange essential oil. Spritz any areas you want your cat to avoid, like your couch. Alternatively, you can soak cotton balls in the mixture and place them around the areas you deem off-limits to your cat.

Extra Tips

After all your efforts, your feisty feline will likely still have a favorite furniture item they love to scratch. Therefore, make it as unappealing as possible. In addition to spraying it with citrus sprays, you can cover it with a sheet or other material your cat doesn’t find interesting.

If your cat is stressed, ensure they get adequate time for stimulation and activity. Make their scratching posts and other designated scratching areas extra-intriguing by sprinkling them with catnip. 

You can even take your cat for walks to help them get some extra exercise. If you think your kitty would enjoy taking a walk with you, you’ll need a good leash and some patience. But, if you’re willing to put forth some initial effort, it could be well worth your time to leash train your cat.

If you have multiple cats in your home, ensure you provide adequate resources for all your felines. The general rule of thumb is one item per cat plus one more. So if you have three cats, you need at least four litter boxes. You’ll also need at least four food and water bowls and likely more than four scratching posts throughout your house.

Again, the best way to encourage your cat to steer clear of scratching the furniture is to train them to scratch certain spots when they’re young. Of course, this means you need to provide them with ample scratching posts and similar items. Doing so, along with understanding your cat’s behaviors and feelings, can help you protect your furniture and keep your feline friend happy and healthy. For more helpful advice, visit our blog!

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