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In this article, I will give tips on how to stop a cat from scratching the furniture and explain this behavior.
It is well-known that cats are scratching machines. Our furbaby’s scratch when they are playing, stretching, grooming, and sometimes when they are excited and happy.
Contrary to popular belief that scratching is a negative or aggressive behavior, it is healthy for cats to scratch whenever the need arises.
A cat’s instinct to scratch is behavioral and has evolved for cats to reduce contact with the others. The scratching behavior is territorial and shows other cats surrounding the areas that another cat already inhabits the location they are entering.
As non-confrontational creatures, they would leave scratch marks to mark their territory, instead.
Cats scratch for several reasons, and they will scratch anything near them. Unfortunately, for our furbaby at home, they tend to scratch our furniture.
There are many ways to divert this behavior and move them away from scratching your furniture into an appropriate scratching object, such as a scratching post.
In this article, we will be going to a cat’s mind and explore why they need to scratch. Most importantly, we will be teaching you tips on how to keep a cat from scratching the furniture you love.
Do All Cats Scratch Furniture?
Scratching is a natural aspect of a cat’s behavior. Undomesticated cats in the wild scratch their claws to remove any dead layer of the nail, which will make it sharp for hunting; think of it like a cat’s manicure routine.
Scratching also allows cats to mark their territory due to the scent glands between their claws that lingers when scratched on a surface. If another cat smells this particular smell, they will know that there is already a cat occupying it.
Why Do Cats Like To Scratch?
As previously mentioned, there are several reasons why cats like to scratch anything they see. Here’s why they do it.
1. Territory marking
Scratching on your furniture is a cat’s way to mark their territory; similar to peeing for dogs. They also pee as a territorial marking on horizontal surfaces, such as a floor, but when it comes to vertical surfaces such as the side of a sofa, they use their claw.
You’ll usually see your cat scratching if you’ve just moved to a new home or you get a new cat or dog. A similar reaction happens when a family brings home a new baby, your feline friend becomes territorial and see anyone unfamiliar as a threat to their own space.
Read our past article to learn how to safely introduce your cat to a newborn baby.
Cats also like to mix their scent with their pet parent’s scent; that’s why you can find them scratching areas where you spend most of your time, such as your couch or bed.
Since cats can experience separation anxiety, they will scratch your bed or chair when they haven’t interacted with their pet parent for quite some time.
2. Removes dead outer layers of claws
Cats will begin to scratch their claws to a rough surface such as concrete or bark of a tree when they feel too long or too dirty. Regular scratching will slowly file down a cat’s nails to the length they can manage.
3. Stress Relief
Cats also undergo anxiety, and we previously published an article that will help you in understanding it. Scratching can be one way to release anxiety for cats therapeutically.
It is the equivalent to us humans using a stress ball. Through clawing, they remove any tension in their body and keep their mind meditated.
If your furbaby has encountered a bad interaction with another cat, you may see them scratching in one area. This helps them wind down and take away all the frustrations.
Our cat’s way to release some aggression and built-up anxiety is thru scratching. And as we all know, this requires physical movement and exercise.
It is equivalent to us spending 15 minutes on a punching bag at the gym. Our cats get to stretch their bodies while using muscles to flex and scratch whenever they play with the scratcher.
4. Well, cats enjoy scratching!
Cats see scratching as a fun activity to play, especially when their scratcher has other components such as pompoms or little holes to make their playtime more fun.
Why You Should Never Declaw Your Cat
Since the sharp claws are why your furniture gets damaged, you may think, “Should I just declaw them to stop cats from scratching furniture?”. We will tackle why this can become a bigger problem.
Declawing is a surgery where a cat’s claw and end bone of each toe is amputated; it is the surgical removal of a third of a cat’s paw.
Furbabies that are declawed must be kept indoors only since the claws are their primary means of self-defense and escape against the many dangers in their area. Declawed cats are also often chronically painful, and may lead to aggression or litter box problems.
So please do not declaw your cat, here are more reasons to avoid this practice.
How Do You Keep Your Furbaby From Scratching Your Furniture?
If you catch your furbaby scratching your furniture, it is essential to correct the behavior immediately. Never hit your pet because hitting them is not a good deterrent to scratching. A firm “no,” while directly looking at them, is more appropriate.
Many cat parents recommend the water spray bottle method: keep a spray bottle in an easily accessible area, like your living room, and when your cat begins to scratch, spray them with water while firmly saying, “No.”
Cats cannot easily remove their urge to scratch. So instead of stopping your furbaby from scratching, the best and safest option is to teach them what and where to scratch; this is where scratching posts come into place.
In this section, we will be providing you a step-by-step guide on how to stop a cat from scratching the furniture.
Dealing With Your Furniture
Some of your furniture will always have a special place in your cat’s heart as their favorite scratching location. In this case, there are various options you can try:
- Put a double-sided tape to your furniture. Cats generally do not find sticky areas pleasant as the hairless skin on the cat’s paws are extremely sensitive. Applying a double-sided tape on your furniture’s surface will help deter your cat from scratching your furniture.
- Plastics can help in deterring your cat from approaching your furniture as the smell and feel does not feel good to them. You could cover the furniture with a plastic cover if you are not at home to deter your furbaby from staying on your plastic-covered furniture.
- When buying new furniture, consider getting a tight-weave microfiber fabric instead of a tweed-like fabric. Cats are not interested in scratching fluffy materials as their claws will not get through it.
- Consider getting an anti-cat scratch spray. These sprays deter your cat from going near a certain area and scratching the furniture within. using this spray is very helpful especially for those cats who have a piece of favorite furniture to scratch on. If you’re worried if the spray would be harmful to your cat, don’t worry because most anti-cat sprays are made up of natural essential oils from plants that are not desirable to cats.
If your cat is always using your furniture as their scratch post, it is most likely that you do not have a designated cat scratching post for them. Investing in one is a game changer.
Location is everything
In case you already have a scratch post and your cat still wants to use your furniture, it may be because the scratcher is in an unstrategic location. It may be too hard to reach or in a dusty, uncomfortable, or isolated place. Consider the areas where your cat usually goes and put the scratcher there.
For a 100% guarantee, place your cat scratcher next to the furniture they scratch the most. By doing so, you’re giving them an accessible and directly available alternative.
If your cat still prefers to get busy with your furniture even though the scratcher is just nearby, you may want to apply catnip around the scratcher to get your cat’s attention. A catnip’s scent will develop the desirability of your cat to scratch the post instead of your furniture.
A Scratcher’s Texture and Material Can Make a Difference
Wild, undomesticated cats use tree trunks and bark to scratch, so it is best to purchase a scratcher that resembles the same type of texture. As cute as it may look, fluffy scratchers are not really enticing for cats and it does not give the full satisfaction after being scratched.
The best scratchers have sturdy, durable carpet texture or rope wound around the scratching post. These are generally durable, sturdy, and will feel suitable for your cat to scratch because they have a tough texture.
The most popular scratchers are those with carpet-like texture, but keep in mind that some that are cheaply-made can damage easily and can be harmful to your cat’s claws. Choose carefully based on other customer’s reviews.
When you select a scratcher, try choosing one in a different color for your carpet and furniture. This will give your cat a clear differentiation between the scratcher and your furniture.
You can also look for a nice cat tree, these usually have a place for your cat to chill and all of them include scratcher posts. Once your cat gets used to it, they will most likely stop scratching the furniture.
How to Trim Your Cat’s Nails
While cats will take care of their grooming and hygiene, their claws will sometimes be ignored in the process. If this is the case, it may be time to assist them in trimming their nails to keep them clean and less dangerous.
Trimming the nails should be done every two to three weeks. You can go to a veterinarian to have this done, or you can do it yourself with the help of cat claw trimmers or scissors. Here are some tips if you decided to do it on your own:
1. Start Trimming While They Are Still Young
Trimming your furbaby while they are still kittens will give them more time to get used to the feeling of someone handling their paws and trimming off the nails. By the time they become adults, you will have fewer struggles in trimming your furbaby’s claws.
2. Go Slowly But Surely
Cat’s paws are one of the most delicate and sensitive parts of their body. Trimming the nails will be challenging because they will often pull away from you while in the process.
For sensitive cats, try slowly warming them up to the trimming routine during petting sessions. Once the cat is on your lap, touch one of the paws then gently push the pads to extend the claw while praising them. Once she is getting tense, finish the session and continue doing this in the next session.
Once your furbaby has accepted the feeling of being held on their paws, try clipping. During the first sessions, it is not necessary to finish trimming all the claws, one to two trimmed nails per session is fine. Once they are positively used to the trimming session, you can continue trimming all the nails in one sitting.
3. Trim While They are Napping
Cats are most relaxed when they are asleep, so why not take advantage of it? When trimming your cat’s nails while dozing off, be gentle and quiet to avoid waking them up and being startled.
On average, you will be able to trim one to two claws during this session, but don’t worry! Remember that cats sleep most of the day, so you’ll have many opportunities to trim their nails.
4. Just the Tips
The sharp end of your furbaby’s nail punctures your furniture, so that’s the only part you want to trim. It is typically the clear part of the nail when extended, so seeing it will not be an issue.
5. Always Use a Sharp, Well-Maintained Trimmer
Dull trimmers will cause splinter to your furbaby’s nail that can cause discomfort and often, bleeding. Blade replacements are always available for guillotine-type trimmers in your pet store.
Check out this short informational video from a licensed veterinarian, Dr. Mike, to learn how to trim your cats safely:
By following this guide, we assure you that this will give you some ideas on how to stop cats from scratching the furniture you love.
Be patient and understand this cat’s behavior as this is perfectly natural, but with some guidance, you will be able to redirect them to the proper behavior.
Have you tried some of our tips on how to stop a cat from scratching the furniture? How did it go? Comment down below!
Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a pet expert with more than 20 years of experience working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals since a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.
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