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Why Do Cats Scratch Furniture and How To Stop It

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Do you have a cat scratching up all your good furniture?

It may seem like if you take your eye off your cat for one moment, they’ll be back to scratch your couch some more. This problem can result in hundreds and thousands of dollars of damage.

In this article, I’m going to help you understand why cat’s scratch and how to stop it.

Why do cats scratch?

The main reason cats scratch is for territory marking. By scratching a surface, it lets other cats and animals know who owns the territory.

Cats also spray urine and rub their head on objects to transfer scent. A cats urine contains felinine, which a strong smelling chemical that helps with territory marking.

Why Do cats Scratch furniture?

Cats love scratching loosely woven fabric or any surface that breaks apart. This gives a visual territory mark which is what signals ownership.

In nature, cats may scratch wear down the surface the same tree, rather than scratching a few spots.

Surfaces that don’t rip apart in the claws are less favorable for cats. This is one reason why your cats may ignore your scratching post.

Cats scratch furniture as way of marking territory.
Cats scratch furniture as way of marking territory.

Do cats scratch to condition their claws?

Cat’s don’t need to scratch to maintain and condition their claws. They do this using their teeth whilst grooming.

Declawed cats are also able to stretch tight muscles without scratching. This means scratching isn’t needed for stretching.

The main purpose of scratching is to mark territory. It’s to let other cats and animals know who owns an area.

Can I stop a cat scratching?

No, cats are instinctively going to scratch.

In fact, trying to stop a cat scratching completely will be worse for their health. Stopping a cat from scratching results in behavioral issues.

Other methods for stopping scratching include declawing and/or tendonectomies. These are extreme measures to stop cats from being able to scratch.

Both of these surgical procedures result in health complications. These include:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Decreased movement

In short, these approaches are extreme and negative experiences for cats. Instead, it’s better to get practical and start approaching the problem by adjusting your living area. Many people opting for declawing haven’t tried other approaches first.

Let’s look at the solutions.

How to Stop Cats Scratching Your Furniture

The best way is to add a scratching post with loosely woven fabric and/or sisal rope. This type of material tears apart a little and helps your cat mark their territory.

That’s what cats aim to achieve with their scratching and why we want to help them with it. Let’s look at what you want in a scratching post.

What should you look for in scratching post?

Let’s look at some key things to look for.

Direction

Cats may prefer vertical or horizontal scratching. The best way to find your cats preference is quite simple: watch what they do.

In the case of my cat, he liked horizontal AND vertical scratching. He was a very scratchy cat indeed.

If they like both, then you’ll want to get both a vertical and horizontal scratching option.

A cat using a horizontal scratch pad.
Some cats enjoy using horizontal scratch pads.

Build

A good scratching post should be sturdy enough to support your cats weight as they pull against it.

Check for customer reviews about any stability issues in the product.

Size

You want to make sure your cat has enough room to get maximum coverage with the claws.
Choose a scratching post that is at least 3 feet long.

Fabric

Cats prefer a loosely woven fabric that shreds easily in the claws. This gives cats the satisfaction that they are letting everyone know who’s boss in the house. Survey based research suggests most cats prefer sisal (rope).

BEST VERTICAL SCRATCHING POST

Forte Huge Cat Scratching Post

A monster sized scratching post to suit cats of all sizes. Study build to prevent tipping. Sisal wrapped for maximum scratching pleasure.

BEST HORIZONTAL SCRATCHING PAD

FUKUMARU Cat Scratcher Mat

Set and forget large scratching mat for cats of all sizes. Sisal covered for maximum durability and scratching pleasure.

A cat scratching a post.
Cats prefer loose fabric that pulls apart. This helps mark territory, the goal for cats when scratching.

Where do I put my scratch post?

Try leaving the scratching post near busy areas, next to furniture, or near your cats sleeping area. Your cat is most likely to want to scratch in these areas to mark their territory.

Busy areas are areas your cat may see as areas that warrant territory control. Putting a scratching post near furniture helps divert attention.

Experiment with location and find what your cat likes best.

Scratching posts or pads may work best around other furniture and common areas.
Scratching posts or pads may work best around other furniture and common areas. This helps mark territory for others in the house and diverts your cats attention.

How many scratching posts do you need?

You may need more than one scratching post if you have a multi-cat household. More scratching posts offers your cat a chance to mark their territory in all locations they use.

Always start by getting one scratching post to see if your cat likes the material and build.

If you’re still having issues, try a plastic rug runner over your couch. Although this is unsightly, it will stop the problem in the short term.

How to Make Your Cat Use Their Scratching Post?

You want your cat to associate their new scratching post with a positive experience. To that end, you want to put it somewhere easy to access and reward use with treats.

You may try scratching the post yourself to encourage use, but your mileage may vary. Cat attractants like catnip may also help.

A cat playing with their cat scratching post.
Adding a toy to the cat scratcher helps encourage use.

Should I Trim Nails To Stop A Cats Scratching?

Blunt nails do less damage than sharp claws. For this reason, it makes sense to trim your cats nails to help reduce damage to furniture.

Check out my guide to trimming a cat’s nails to learn more.

Best Nail Trimmer For Cats

Pet Nail Clippers for Small Animals

Safe and easy to handle clippers. Perfect for cats of all sizes. Free instruction manual and risk-free money back guarantee.

Another option is you may opt for is soft paws. This is a plastic covering that stops the claws from damaging furniture. They also protect you from scratch wounds when playing with your cat.

They need replacing every few weeks as they fall off, and you need time to apply them (which may be hard with a difficult cat). Still they are a great option to try in a pinch.

Should I Declaw My Cat To Stop Them Scratching?

No, this causes your cat pain and trauma. It’s an extreme measure that isn’t necessary if you improve your cats environment.

Researchers call this environmental enrichment. This is a process of making your house as ‘cat friendly’ as possible to simulate the wild environment.

This includes having areas to hide, climb, sleep, watch the birds (cat TV), and scratch.

Setting up everything the right way helps your cat have a better quality to cut down on stress.

Check out my guide to the best cat cave choices to learn more about improving environment.

A cat in its cat tree.
Cats enjoy having places to climb, scratch, and hide. Audit your house or apartment and make it cat friendly hub.

Happy Scratching Cat Lovers!

Give your scratchy cat well placed cat scratching posts with loosely woven fabric. This is the key to help your cat mark their territory without ruining your furniture.

Claw protectors and nail trimming are also helpful ways to limit damage with scratchy cats.

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