It can be very frustrating when cats scratch places (like furniture) that we consider inappropriate. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to change this behaviour, and redirect their scratching to more suitable surfaces.
Wondering why they have the urge to scratch things in the first place?
Why do cats scratch furniture?
Cats scratch for a myriad of reasons, and it is a normal, natural and instinctive part of their behaviour. They scratch for both physical and mental reasons.
- Scratching removes the outer dead layer of their nails and exposes the healthy new growth underneath, so it is important for healthy claws. After all, they use their claws to hunt and defend themselves.
- The action of scratching also stretches and strengthens muscles, keeping them fit and strong, and ready for anything.
- When they scratch they leave visible marks, along with smells from the scent glands in their paw pads. This is a way to communicate and show other kitties they are in the area.
- Cats also scratch as a way to relieve stress or when they become excited, such as after you arrive home.
How to make your cat stop scratching your furniture
The key for dealing with an unwanted furniture scratching habit, is to redirect their attention to an appropriate scratching surface.
Don’t punish them for scratching, as cats don’t learn from punishment. Instead, you should give them better surfaces to scratch.
Offer a variety of scratchers
To offer them a better scratching surface, take note of the inappropriate objects they normally scratch. Then get them a scratcher that is similar to their preferred scratching object.
Pay attention to the textures they prefer to scratch, and choose at least one scratcher with a similar texture or surface.
Then, place it beside the object they like to scratch.
For example, if they scratch vertical surfaces like the side of the sofa, get them a tall, upright scratcher, such as the cactus scratcher by Vetreska. Then place it beside the sofa.
If they like to scratch a carpet, get them a horizontal scratcher, with a fabric or rope finish, to imitate the feeling of the carpet. Place the scratcher on the carpet where they normally scratch.
Make sure to get a sturdy, high quality scratcher - you don’t want it falling over while they scratch. Vertical scratchers should be tall enough for your cat to be able to stand on their hind legs and fully extend their body up so they can enjoy a full-body stretch.
Offer a variety of scratchers & locations
It might take a while before you manage to redirect them from the inappropriate object they scratch. Experiment with a variety of sizes and material to find the scratcher they prefer.
Try placing scratchers in locations your cat frequently spends time. After a nap, cat often scratch and stretch, so try placing one near their bed.
Make scratchers more appealing
You can also make a scratcher more appealing with the following ideas:
- Sprinkle catnip or silvervine on the scratcher
- Attach fun toys to the scratcher.
- Play with them using a wand toy, and get them to play on and around the scratcher.
These steps create positive associations with the scratcher and makes them comfortable spending time there.
If your cat still chooses to scratch the original, inappropriate object, you could spray it with Feliway. This mimics the scents that cats leave when they scratch, so they will feel like it has their scent already, and be less inclined to scratch.
Of course, they still need the alternative, acceptable surfaces so they have somewhere appropriate to scratch.
Make sure not to spray Feliway on the scratcher, or it might discourage them from using it.
Reward appropriate scratching
Hopefully with the steps here, your cat has started to use the alternate scratchers. So the final step is to reward and encourage this appropriate scratching.
So if you see your cat use the scratcher, reinforce the behaviour with a reward, such as a treat or some pets. Different kitties respond to different rewards. Rewards encourage them to continue scratching there.
Try scratchers with extra functions
Scratchers that double as a bed or toy have an extra reason to attract your cat, and can be a great way of saving space.
This Moon and Star Cat Tree has scratcher columns, along with a kitty cave for cats who like to get cosy. The elevated platforms attract cats who like to be up high for a view of their territory, and they make comfy beds too. So there are multiple features to encourage your cat to spend time on the scratcher.
This Petkit Cat Scratch and Play Mat has a fun toy track to get them to spend time on the scratcher, and it also functions as a napping spot.
This Vetreska Cheese Cat Scratcher Box is a fun addition to your decor, and can be used as a bed too. We like to use a wand toy to play with cats through the cheese holes!
We hope these tips were helpful and you are able to redirect your cat away from scratching your furniture!
If you're trying to make their scratchers more fun, why not try using catnip toys to play with them around their scratchers?