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How to stop cats scratching furniture

Cats are scratchers. Always have been, and always will be. In fact, it's in their DNA, and there are reasons why they love to tear up all sorts of objects and materials – including your furniture. This brings us to the highly sort after answer to the question: How to stop cats scratching furniture?

If you've made it this far, you want a bit more detail than quick tips video, right? With the help of our PETstock VET team, we dive deeper into the reasons why cats scratch, product solutions and techniques to help stop your cat scratching your furniture.

Why do cats love to scratch?

For the record – cat scratching is normal behaviour. It's not a cat's way of showing contempt or happiness in your pain. They don't target your new couch to hurt you, just remember that.

A cat has the urge to scratch for many reasons, which include:

Marking their territory

All animals can be territorial, and cats love making their mark by scratching and leaving their scent. This is especially the case in the multi-cat household.

Did you know that cats have scent glands in their paws? It allows them to mark their scent when scratching to help deter other feline competition.

Claw maintenance

Scratching the right materials will help your cat shed the outer layer of the claws, keeping the nails in their best condition. Scratching will also help remove debris from under the claws, helping prevent infection of the paw. If your cat is mostly sedentary, you should endeavour to make sure your cat’s nails are trimmed regularly.

To expel energy

If a cat is excited, or frustrated, they tend to let their claws do the talking. Being able to scratch it out really helps them hone their feelings. (We've all been there).

Why do cats love scratching furniture?

Black and white cat, scratching its post

If your cat is mostly indoors, there are a limited number of options for them to exhibit their natural behaviour of scratching. Typically, cats tend to go for materials they can get their claws into, and which allow them to stretch out, like course, textured surfaces, including rope and carpet. Unfortunately, this includes your couch too.

However, as you can probably guess, cats have their preferences, so not every cat will respond to scratching solution you present. Cats definitely know how to get what they want.

How to stop cats from scratching furniture

Training

Like most unwanted behaviours, stopping your cat from scratching your furniture may take a combination of training and products. However, with some persistence in your training, you will hopefully need to rely less on the product, and more on your cat's learned behaviour or routine.

How to train your cat to scratch a post

Black cat scratching post

  • One of the best ways to direct your cat away from scratching your furniture, is to direct them to their scratching post – well, that's simple, right? Not always, especially if your cat or kitten has never interacted with a cat scratcher before or has a new one – they can be very picky.
  • Try to encourage your cat away from bad scratching areas by leaving treats in and around their scratching post. You can also try spraying cat nip onto the scratching post for extra enticement. If you do notice your cat scratching the wrong thing, make a sound (like a clap) and direct them to their scratching pole. If you repeat this in the same way over time, your cat will soon learn where their efforts are rewarded.

Product solutions

When you need some coaxing assistance or ways to distract your cat away from your couch, there are products designed to help the process or offer a solution.

Enrichment -

If your cat is bored and full of energy, or just needs to scratch it out for territory purposes, there are lots of products to get your cat's brain ticking. While it may seem like bad behaviour, it could be that your cat isn't being provided with the right level of environmental stimulus.

  • Scratching post and towers – There are so many of these available; tall ones, ground-level basics, multi-level skyscrapers, ones with various textures and those with built-in toys. It's a cat's life for sure. Make sure you go into making a purchase with the right prep, including thinking about the textures and surfaces that already entice your cat. Some cats like to scratch a horizontal surface, rather than a vertical surface – remember these smaller details.
  • Scratching mats, pads or boards – These are product alternatives to your standard cat scratching posts and towers. You can buy mats which are almost like rugs, designed to be scratched, or boards which have a hard backing. There are even pads that sick onto furniture – if you're really still struggling to get your cat away from your couch!
  • Interactive toys - Maybe your cat is scratching your furniture out of real, down and out boredom? If so, try and incorporate some more toys into their playroom (your house, their playroom, same thing). There are so many nifty interactive toys that can be an alternative energy release that you should consider – along with scratching posts.

Sprays and diffusers -

In conjunction with some of the techniques and training methods above, you can use some products to help direct desired behaviour and redirect undesired behaviour. Did someone say, catnip indulgence?

  • Catnip – Cats love the stuff. So, a few sprays of catnip on your new, shiny cat scratching pole or tower, will help motivate your cat to scratch away at the right target.
  • Feliway - Available in both a spray function and wall plugin, Feliway products ooze a synthetic version of the pheromone cats naturally release when they rub against objects, which can help them relax and allow them to feel at home. If your cat is scratching out of anxiety, or frustration, this may be a good option to test out.
  • Deterrent sprays – Instead of catnip and Feliway, which will help redirect and alter behaviour, a deterrent spray will act to repel your cat from surfaces you want to keep safe. There are a couple of different brands which offer these sprays, and they can be useful in helping transition your cat to the 'correct' scratching items.

Preventing your cat from scratching your furniture is a bit of trial and error. Still, with the right products – especially a cat scratching post – you can provide your furniture with the best chance of survival. Plus, this will also deliver some much-needed enrichment for your cat. They may not show their thanks, but you'll soon notice the difference.

 

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