How to stop cats scratching furniture
Even the most patient of pet owners recognise the irritation that can come from hearing our cat’s claws scraping down the side of the sofa. Scratching furniture can be one of the most bothersome feline behaviours, but there are good reasons for it.
Here, Petplan explores some of these motivations and gives guidance on how to stop cats scratching furniture.
Why do cats scratch furniture?
Scratching is a natural and beneficial behaviour for cats and it has practical purposes that you ought to be aware of.
Firstly, scratching is important for cats to maintain their health. It helps to keep claws sharp; digging them in and drawing them down removes the old claw sheath and reveals a new, sharper layer below. Scratching also provides your cat with a full-body workout, helping to stretch their muscles and tendons.
Additionally, Scratching is a means for your cat to mark their territory. This is because watery sweat is secreted from between paw pads, which in turn becomes stuck to any surfaces your cat happens to scratch. This secretion leaves a scent message, marking the territory, which helps cats to feel more secure. If they are scratching to make themselves feel more secure, your cat will probably target many surfaces, including prominent items – such as a sofa – and items near doorways. This is more likely to occur if there are other cats present, who your cat may be trying to signal their territory to.
The best way to stop your cat clawing at, and potentially damaging, your furniture is to place scratching posts throughout your home. These will provide designated areas that replicate the surfaces cats like to scratch outdoors so that they will feel less need to claw at your favourite armchair or table.
When purchasing scratching posts, ensure that it is tall enough for your cat to stretch up fully – you want to make sure they can still get the full-body workout scratching ought to provide them. Also, ensure that the posts you purchase are strong and stable enough to support your cat’s weight. If the scratching post wobbles when your cat tries to use it, they may be put off from using it again.
When the post is first installed, gently wipe your cat’s paws down the post to leave their scent there and show them what to do. If you find them scratching elsewhere, carry them over to the post and repeat this action. It is also good to consider scratching posts that have dangling toys attached, as this will help to pique your cat’s interest in the new item.
Remove the scent
You can also discourage scratching by removing your cat’s scent from objects you want to protect. Your cat will be attracted to areas where they can detect their scent fading and will want to scratch again to maintain the smell. If you remove the smell completely or as much as possible, they will be less attracted to that particular spot. You can clean each scratching area by using a mild solution of biological washing powder, followed by scrubbing with surgical spirit. Be careful not to fade colours when doing this though.
Make sure your cat is happy
The emotional reasons cats may scratch furniture are if they are feeling insecure in your home or if they are bored. If your cat is bored, you should try to set aside time to play with them and ensure they have plenty of toys around the house to keep them physically and intellectually stimulated.
If your cat is scratching furniture due to feeling insecure in your house, you can help to alleviate this by ensuring that strange cats aren’t entering your home by locking the cat flap or installing a selective catflap that only allows your cat to enter. Help to spread your cat’s smell by taking a soft cloth, wiping it on their face and then dabbing this around areas of the room you have seen your cat scratching. Finally, avoid punishing your cats as this will make them feel even less secure.
For more advice on training your cat, speak to a vet, and if you have any advice on how to stop cats scratching furniture, let us know in the comments below.