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How to stop a cat from scratching the furniture

White cat with scratching post

One of the reasons why cats scratch is to mark their territory

© Magdanatka - Shutterstock

Cats scratching the furniture is one downside of living with a cat. But it doesn't have to be that way with our tips on stopping your feline wrecking your furniture.

By Zoë Monk

Published on the 02/06/2021, 11:00

When you catch your cat scratching the furniture, it is not only annoying but it can also cause serious damage to your home and belongings. But you don't have to fall out with your feline over it.

By encouraging your cat to divert their scratching needs elsewhere, you can stop your cats from scratching your furniture and wrecking your home.

Why do cats scratch?

Cats need to scratch as a way of expressing their emotions. If your cats feel excited or stressed, they may want to scratch to mark objects with their scent. They are also scratching to mark their territory, which you will notice by the tell-tale scratch marks your kitty leaves behind. But they also leave other territory markers that only other cats can detect. They also scratch to remove the dead part of their nails, and often, it's just because they want a good stretch.

Why do cats scratch furniture?

It can be very frustrating for you to see your cats take out their desire to scratch on your furniture, but it's very ordinary behaviour. When they are outside, they will scratch on trees and fence posts. However, when your cat is at home, they are surrounded by various tempting scratching surfaces. If a cat feels uncomfortable, a cat may scratch more than usual. A cat often uses scratching to express its discomfort. This can often happen with recently adopted cats, when you've made changes in your home or if you have a multi-cat household.

How do I stop my cat from destroying my furniture?

Scratching is a natural behaviour for a cat that you cannot stop. However, what you can do is provide your cat with alternative surfaces to scratch, such as cat scratching posts and boards. You can also provide your cat with multi-level cat furniture which lets them climb, perch and scratch to their heart's content.

Cats like to scratch rigid surfaces that resist the pull of their claws and to stretch their furry bodies as high as possible. Place the scratching posts strategically around your home, where your cat often spends time. Cats often like to stretch and scratch after they've woken up, so it is a good idea to place a scratching post near their sleeping area.

How do I stop my cat from clawing the carpet?

To stop your cat from clawing the carpet, give your cat vertical and horizontal scratching posts as an alternative scratching surface. Get your feline interested in using the post by sprinkling or spraying it with catnip. You can also drape a wand toy over a vertical scratching post to give your cats something fun to discover and play with. If there is an area of the carpet that your cat seems particularly keen to scratch, cover it with a rug or horizontal scratchpad.

How can I get my cat to stop scratching the couch?

To get your cat to stop scratching your couch, start by clapping your hands as a warning each time your cat looks like they are about to scratch. Please don't shout at them or act aggressively towards them, as this will only scare them.

You can also invest in several cat scratching posts and place them in front of the area of the couch they like to scratch. When you see your cat investigating the new scratching posts, give them lots of praise, and even a cat treat. You can also make your couch an unattractive area to scratch by spraying the couch with a citrus-scented spray or tightly tucking in a sheet around the scratched area of the couch so your cat can't get underneath it to scratch the couch.

What fabric do cats not like to scratch?

There are certain fabrics that cats do not like to scratch, such as leather, microfibre, plastic, velvet, denim and polyester. However, cats cannot resist digging their claws in cotton, tweed, chenille and silk.

What if my cat still won't stop scratching the carpet or furniture?

If your cat still doesn't stop scratching the carpet or furniture, don't despair. Give the scratched area of carpet or furniture a good clean to remove any traces of pheromones that could be encouraged your cat to continue to scratch. Next, try spraying a deterrent spray on the damaged area of furniture or carpet to help stop more scratching behaviour. You can also apply some low-tack double-sided sticky tape over the scratched area as your cat probably won't like the feeling of it on their paws. Ensure the tape isn't too sticky so it won't hurt your cat's paws and the surface you've stuck it to. If you find it impossible to stop you scratching your furniture, try trimming your cat's claws.

What can I spray on furniture to stop cats scratching?

There are a variety of different sprays you can buy to stop cats from scratching furniture. Some sprays contain a blend of herbal essential oils that will discourage cats from scratching the treated surface when sprayed on fabrics. While harmless to cats, it will help train them not to scratch furniture, carpets and curtains. You will need to reapply the spray to make sure it remains effective regularly.

What home remedy will keep cats from scratching furniture?

While you can buy a pre-prepared spray to stop cats from scratching furniture, you can also make your own DIY home remedy with vinegar and essential citrus oils. Even garlic has been known to deter cats.

Try mixing vinegar and liquid hand soap in equal parts in a spray bottle and use it on areas where your cat scratches.

You can also mix rosemary extract and water or lemon juice, cranberry juice or orange juice in a spray bottle.

Make sure you spray the furniture rather than your cat.

Is there an essential oil that repels cats?

The essential oils known to repel cats include lavender, lemongrass, lime, peppermint and orange. While cats don't like the smell of these essential oils, they are non-toxic to our feline friends, so safe to spray on furniture.

If your cat is prone to scratching and furniture, remember they aren't doing it to annoy you or being deliberately naughty. But, at the same time, it can be frustrating to see your furniture wrecked by their clawing habits. Investing in good, quality scratching posts, distracting your cat with playtime and toys and using deterrent sprays can help stop your cat from scratching your furniture.

Frequently asked questions

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