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How to stop cats from scratching furniture

 How to stop cats from scratching furniture
by Lucinda Beeman

Read time: 5 min

For cat parents, the sight of a well-shredded sofa arm or chair is a common sight. Cats are natural scratchers. It keeps their claws healthy and it just feels good. But having them destroying your belongings doesn’t feel so nice. 

Read on to learn more about why cats scratch. And how to stop cats scratching. No more SOS (save our sofas) alerts here. 

Why do cats scratch?

It might seem like just another irritating thing your cat does. But scratching is a totally natural cat behaviour. Whether they’re leaving Wolverine-worthy marks down the arm of your sofa or tearing up the doormat, there are a number of different reasons why they do it.

To stretch

Scratching is a great form of exercise and, just like how it feels nice to stretch out everything when we wake up, scratching works lots of muscles at once – from your cat’s shoulders all the way to their toes. 

To mark their territory

Cats are all about smells. They have double the olfactory cells in their noses than we do and love to scent mark their belongings. They have scent glands in their paws which leave behind their own personal perfume on everything they scratch or knead. Which is why you’ll see your cat returning to the same spot to scratch – it tops up the scent that tells other cats “this is mine”. 

To maintain claw health

Scratching keeps their claws sharp and in good condition. It removes dirt and helps to shed the old nail sheaths (which you’ll probably find around their scratch post). 

To feel good

As well as all of the health benefits for your cat, scratching just plain feels good for them. It helps them to destress and unwind. 

How to stop cats from scratching

You can’t stop your cat from scratching. But there are some things you can do to make sure they stop damaging your furniture or carpets. The art of redirection. 

Scratching posts

There are two different types of scratchers. The vertical scratchers and the horizontal scratchers. 

If your cat likes to sink their claws into the side or back of  your furniture, they’re probably a vertical scratcher and will appreciate a scratching post or cat tree. Make sure the post is tall enough that they can stretch right out. And with a wide enough base so it won’t wobble or fall over when they use it. 

If you find that your rugs, carpets, and doormats get shredded by idle claws, your cat might be a horizontal scratcher. Scratching pads or cardboard scratchers might be ideal. And help save your carpets. 

Does your cat tend to use one particular spot to scratch? Or walk the same route through your home? Possibly setting their claws into your chairs on their way through? Place the scratchers there. Cats will return to the same spots to scratch. Add catnip to help tempt them over.

Remove or cover furniture

If your favourite armchair keeps getting abused, or your sofa is consistently shredded, you may want to simply remove them from the room. Or if that’s not possible, cover them with a sheet or scratch-proof furniture cover. 

Try cat repellents furniture spray

There are plenty of natural cat repellent sprays out there designed for spraying on furniture. Usually, they’re made with citrus, which cats hate. Sometimes, they are also enzymatic to help break down the scent left behind by your cat’s paws. (Which is part of why they keep returning to that one spot.) If you can, it’s a good idea to remove and wash the sofa cover with a bio detergent as well. 

Other cat repellents such as wide, double-sided tape can also be effective deterrents. Because cats really hate having sticky things on their paws.

Redirect behaviour

If you catch your four-pawed terror in the act, don’t yell or shout at them. And don’t punish them. (It’s a natural behaviour and they’ll just be confused.) Instead, gently pick them up and remove them from the area, placing their paws gently against their scratcher. 

If they’re scratching out of a need to play or during a zoomie session, you may want to redirect their attention with their favourite toy instead.

Praise good behaviour

Most importantly, praise them whenever you find them scratching in the right place. Strokes and verbal praise will be appreciated. Treats will be loved even more. Helping to build a positive association with their ‘good’ behaviour will make sure they keep doing it. 

Should you declaw your cat?

Absolutely not. Take a look at your hand. Now imagine you didn’t have the end knuckles. Imagine how weird that would be. You’d probably be really clumsy and drop everything. And that’d make you really mad after a while. Declawing your cat is like cutting off the top knuckles from all of your fingers and toes. It can cause painful joints because they have to adapt how they walk. Plus balance problems. It can also cause behavioural problems. It’s just plain cruel. In fact, it’s illegal to declaw your cat in the UK. 

Instead, keep your cat’s claws trimmed as much as possible. You can do this yourself or get a groomer or vet to do it for you. This will help to save your furniture and your skin during particularly vigorous play sessions. Without stressing out your cat.

For rewarding all that great behaviour and making sure they scratch in the right place, make sure you have some delicious treats on hand. Our Nibbles freeze-dried cat treats are the perfect high-value reward. Made from 100% human-quality meat, they are freeze dried to preserve the goodness and are absolutely irresistible.

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