What Should I Do If My Cat Is Scratching Furniture?

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What Should I Do If My Cat Is Scratching Furniture?

If you’ve found yourself asking this question, fear not! We’ve got you covered. Discovering that your furry friend has taken a liking to scratching your furniture can be frustrating, but it’s important to remember that cats scratch to fulfill their natural instincts. In this article, we’ll explore some effective strategies to redirect your cat’s scratching behavior and protect your beloved furniture from further damage. With a little patience and the right techniques, you’ll find a solution that both you and your cat can agree on.

Table of Contents

Understanding Why Cats Scratch

Cats have a natural instinct to scratch, and it’s important for us to understand why they engage in this behavior. Scratching is a way for cats to mark their territory, stretch and exercise their muscles, and maintain healthy claws.

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Natural behavior of cats

Scratching is a completely normal behavior for cats. It’s ingrained in their instincts and serves various purposes. By scratching, cats leave visual and scent marks, effectively communicating to other cats that a particular area is their territory.

Marking territory

When a cat scratches, they release a scent from the glands in their paws. This scent acts as a territorial marker, sending a clear message to other cats that this territory is claimed. It’s their way of saying, “This is mine!”

Stretching and exercise

Scratching is not only a form of territory marking but also provides a means for cats to stretch their bodies. When cats scratch, they engage their shoulder, back, and leg muscles, promoting flexibility and overall physical well-being.

Maintaining healthy claws

Scratching also helps cats shed the outer dead layers of their claws, keeping them sharp and healthy. By regularly scratching, cats are able to prevent their claws from becoming overgrown or splitting, which can cause discomfort and potential health issues.

Providing Suitable Alternatives

While scratching is a natural behavior for cats, it’s essential to provide them with suitable alternatives to redirect their scratching behavior away from furniture and onto appropriate surfaces.

Using scratching posts

Scratching posts are an excellent alternative for your cat to scratch. They offer a designated area for your cat to fulfill their scratching needs without damaging your furniture.

Choosing the right type of posts

Not all scratching posts are created equal. It’s important to select a scratching post that is tall enough for your cat to fully stretch their body and sturdy enough to withstand repeated scratching. Look for posts covered with sisal rope or rough fabric, as these textures are appealing to cats.

Placing posts strategically

To encourage your cat to use scratching posts, place them in prominent areas of your home where your cat frequently spends their time. It’s a good idea to have a scratching post in each room your cat has access to, especially in rooms where they spend a significant amount of time.

Encouraging catnip use

Catnip can be a useful tool in attracting your cat to their scratching post. Sprinkle some catnip on the post to make it more enticing for your cat. The scent of catnip stimulates many cats and encourages them to investigate and use the scratching post.

Using interactive toys

Interactive toys can provide mental stimulation and help redirect your cat’s attention away from furniture. Engage your cat in play sessions using toys that mimic prey, such as feather wands or interactive laser pointers. This will not only promote exercise but also distract them from destructive scratching behaviors.

What Should I Do If My Cat Is Scratching Furniture?

Creating an Unattractive Environment for Scratching

In addition to providing suitable alternatives, making the furniture less appealing for scratching can help deter your cat from treating it as a scratching post.

Covering furniture with scratch-resistant materials

One effective way to protect your furniture is to cover it with scratch-resistant materials. You can find various options such as vinyl, plastic, or even special cat-proof fabrics that are resistant to scratching. By covering your furniture with these materials, you create a barrier that discourages your cat from scratching.

Using double-sided tape

Cats dislike the sticky feeling of double-sided tape on their paws. Apply this tape to the areas of furniture that your cat is prone to scratching, and your cat will likely find the sensation unpleasant, ultimately deterring them from continuing to scratch that surface.

Applying scent deterrents

Cats have a keen sense of smell, and certain scents can be off-putting to them. Scent deterrents, such as citrus sprays or essential oils like lemon or orange, can deter cats from scratching furniture. Spray these scents on the areas your cat tends to target, and they’ll likely be deterred by the strong smell.

Using aluminum foil or plastic wrap

Cats generally dislike the texture of aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Covering the furniture with these materials can create an unappealing surface for them to scratch. Over time, your cat may associate the unpleasant texture with the furniture, effectively deterring them from scratching it.

Making unpleasant sounds

Creating unpleasant sounds when your cat attempts to scratch furniture can also discourage the behavior. Use a can with coins inside or a pet-friendly noise deterrent device to produce a loud noise when your cat starts scratching where they shouldn’t. This sudden sound will startle them and discourage them from continuing to scratch.

Trimming Your Cat’s Claws

Regularly trimming your cat’s claws can help reduce the damage caused by their scratching. However, it’s important to approach this task with caution and follow proper techniques.

Getting comfortable with handling paws

Before attempting to trim your cat’s claws, it’s essential to get them comfortable with having their paws touched. Start by gently touching and massaging their paws during regular petting sessions. Gradually introduce them to the sensation of having their claws touched and extended.

Using proper cat nail clippers

Invest in a pair of cat-specific nail clippers that are sharp and easy to handle. Avoid using human nail clippers or dull clippers, as they can crush or split the claws, causing pain to your cat.

Trimming the claws safely

Take your time and trim your cat’s claws in a quiet and stress-free environment. Gently hold their paw and press the pad to extend the claws. Identify the translucent area of the claw called the “quick,” and avoid cutting into it. Trim only the curved, sharp tip of the claw to minimize the risk of injury.

Seeking professional help if needed

If you’re unsure about how to properly trim your cat’s claws or if your cat becomes too anxious or aggressive during the process, it’s best to seek professional help from a veterinarian or a professional groomer. They can trim your cat’s claws safely and provide guidance on proper techniques.

What Should I Do If My Cat Is Scratching Furniture?

Using Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool to encourage and reinforce desired behaviors in your cat, including using appropriate scratching surfaces.

Rewarding good behavior

Whenever you observe your cat using their scratching post or any other suitable alternative, reward them with verbal praise and affectionate pets. It’s important to make a positive association between using the scratching post and receiving a reward, as this will motivate your cat to continue using it.

Praising and petting

Cats respond well to praise and attention. Whenever you catch your cat using their scratching post, be sure to shower them with praise and gentle pets. This positive reinforcement will reinforce the idea that scratching the appropriate surfaces leads to positive attention from you.

Offering treats

Treats are a great way to reinforce positive behavior. Whenever your cat uses their scratching post, offer them a small treat as a reward. This will create a positive association with the post and the act of scratching for your cat.

Using clicker training

Clicker training is a technique that uses a small handheld device called a clicker to mark desired behavior. By associating the sound of the clicker with a reward, you can effectively communicate to your cat when they are engaging in appropriate scratching behavior. Begin by clicking the moment your cat starts using the scratching post and follow up with a treat or praise.

Ignoring undesired behavior

While positive reinforcement is important, it’s equally crucial to avoid reinforcing undesired behavior. If you catch your cat scratching furniture, refrain from scolding or punishing them, as this can create fear and anxiety. Instead, calmly redirect their attention to an appropriate scratching post and reward them when they use it.

Discouraging Scratching in Problematic Areas

Despite your best efforts, your cat may still show a preference for certain areas or pieces of furniture. In these cases, there are strategies to discourage scratching in those specific areas.

Covering furniture with plastic or blankets

If there are specific pieces of furniture that your cat cannot resist scratching, consider covering them temporarily with plastic or blankets. This physical barrier will prevent your cat from accessing the surface and deter them from scratching.

Using motion-activated devices

Motion-activated devices can startle your cat when they approach the furniture they tend to scratch. These devices emit a loud noise or a burst of compressed air, deterring your cat from engaging in the unwanted behavior.

Using citrus sprays or essential oils

As mentioned earlier, cats dislike the smell of citrus. Spray the areas your cat has a preference for with a diluted citrus spray or use essential oils like lemon or orange. The strong scent will discourage your cat from scratching there.

Blocking access to certain areas

If there are areas in your home where your cat’s scratching behavior is particularly problematic, consider using baby gates or closing doors to restrict access. By preventing your cat from reaching these areas, you minimize the possibility of them scratching.

Rearranging furniture

Sometimes, a simple rearrangement of furniture can disrupt your cat’s preferred scratching areas. Move furniture around or introduce new pieces to make the previously targeted areas less accessible or less tempting for scratching.

What Should I Do If My Cat Is Scratching Furniture?

Seeking Professional Help

If you’ve tried various strategies and your cat’s scratching behavior persists or escalates, it may be time to seek professional help from a veterinarian or an animal behaviorist.

Consulting a veterinarian

Your veterinarian can assess your cat’s overall health and rule out any medical conditions that may contribute to their excessive scratching behavior. They can also provide guidance on behavior modification techniques and recommend appropriate courses of action.

Exploring behavior modification techniques

An animal behaviorist can help determine the underlying cause of your cat’s scratching behavior and provide behavior modification techniques tailored to your specific situation. They can assess your cat’s environment, identify triggers, and develop a comprehensive plan to address the issue effectively.

Considering pheromone products

Pheromone products, such as synthetic feline facial pheromones, can be used to help calm and reduce stress in cats. These products come in diffuser, spray, or collar forms and can be effective in reducing scratching related to anxiety or stress.

Using deterrent sprays

Deterrent sprays are designed to discourage cats from scratching certain surfaces. These sprays have a scent that is unpleasant to cats and can be sprayed on furniture or areas prone to scratching. Consult your veterinarian or a professional behaviorist for the appropriate deterrent spray for your cat.

Discussing claw caps

Claw caps, also known as soft paws, are small caps that are glued onto your cat’s claws to prevent scratching damage. While they can be an effective solution for some cats, it’s important to discuss with your veterinarian whether claw caps are suitable for your cat’s needs and to ensure they are applied correctly.

Addressing Stress or Anxiety

Stress or anxiety can contribute to inappropriate scratching behavior in cats. Taking steps to create a calm and enriched environment can help alleviate their stress and reduce their need to scratch furniture.

Creating a calm and enriched environment

Provide your cat with a safe and calm environment by ensuring they have their own space to retreat to. Set up cozy hiding spots such as covered beds or boxes where they can feel secure and reduce stress.

Providing hiding spots

Cats often seek hiding spots when they feel stressed or overwhelmed. Create hiding spots throughout your home, such as tall cat trees, shelves, or cardboard boxes with openings. These spaces provide your cat with privacy and a sense of security.

Engaging in interactive play sessions

Interactive play sessions are an excellent way to reduce stress and anxiety in your cat. Engage your cat in daily play sessions using interactive toys or games that encourage them to chase, pounce, and stalk. This mimics natural hunting behaviors and provides mental stimulation.

Using pheromone diffusers

Pheromone diffusers, such as those that release synthetic feline facial pheromones, can help create a calming environment for your cat. These diffusers plug into electrical outlets and emit pheromones that promote a sense of security and well-being for your cat.

Considering anti-anxiety medications

In severe cases of stress or anxiety, your veterinarian may recommend anti-anxiety medications. These medications can help reduce anxiety levels and calm your cat, ultimately minimizing their urge to engage in destructive scratching.

What Should I Do If My Cat Is Scratching Furniture?

Avoiding Punishment or Negative Reinforcement

It’s crucial to approach scratching issues with your cat in a positive and gentle manner. Punishment or negative reinforcement can be ineffective, create fear, damage the bond between you and your cat, and potentially worsen the scratching behavior.

Understanding the ineffectiveness of punishment

Punishing your cat for scratching furniture is not effective in stopping the behavior. Cats do not respond well to punishment, and it can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and even aggression. Instead, focus on providing suitable alternatives and reinforcing positive behaviors.

Preventing fear or aggression

Punishment or negative reinforcement can cause fear and result in aggressive behavior towards you or other pets. It’s important to foster a trusting and positive relationship with your cat, built on love and understanding.

Promoting trust and bond

By using positive reinforcement, understanding your cat’s needs, and providing suitable alternatives, you can foster a strong bond and trust with your cat. This will ultimately lead to a happier and more harmonious living environment for both you and your feline companion.


Understanding why cats scratch and providing suitable alternatives are key to resolving scratching issues. By using scratching posts, making furniture unattractive, trimming your cat’s claws, using positive reinforcement, discouraging scratching in problematic areas, seeking professional help if needed, addressing stress or anxiety, and avoiding punishment, you can effectively redirect your cat’s scratching behavior. Remember, patience, consistency, and love are essential in helping your cat learn appropriate scratching habits and ensuring a happy and healthy relationship between you and your furry friend.

What Should I Do If My Cat Is Scratching Furniture?

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Hi there! I'm Todd Snively, the author behind Pet Stuff for You. Welcome to our wonderful world of all things pets! With our tagline "All the Best Stuff for Your Pets," we're here to help you navigate the exciting and sometimes overwhelming world of pet ownership. Through carefully curated articles, expert advice, and unbiased product reviews, I aim to provide valuable information to enhance the lives of pets and their owners. From innovative pet care tips to the latest in pet technology, and not to forget about the perfect products for your furry, feathered, or finned friends, Pet Stuff for You has got you covered.