How to Stop Your Cat from Scratching Furniture

How to Stop Your Cat from Scratching Furniture

Ah, cats. They're quirky, playful, and adorable. Except when they ruin your dining room chairs and leather sofas! Raise your hand if you've walked into the living room to find your lovely armchair acting as a jungle gym for your fur kiddo ✋

Well, we finally found a step-by-step system that works - after a couple ruined cushions. Here is how to save your furniture *and your sanity* in just four steps.

Why do cat's scratch?

Scratching is instinctive and it will never be eliminated. Cats scratch for numerous reasons. It can help express emotions like stress and excitement or aid in marking their territory from the scent glands (located on their paw pads).

But most commonly, scratching helps keep their claws in tip-top shape by removing dead layers of the claws. While this does sharpen claws, it also trims them down.

So, if scratching is a part of a cat's nature, how do you stop them from scratching on furniture? We're taking a page from Friends here... You PIVOT!

Step 1: Get scratching posts

Pivot their energy onto something other than your furniture!

Don't even think about skipping this step. Because whether you love it or not, your cat is going to scratch. It's just a matter of giving them something proper to scratch on.

Getting a few scratching posts and maybe even a cat tree will make all the difference. Here are a couple of our favorites:

Wall-Mounted Scratcher
Combines scratching and perching in one item!
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Scratch Lounge Classic
Dense honeycomb texture that cats love to scratch
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Adjustable Under-Table Cat Scratcher
Perfect addition without adding any clutter
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Selecting A Scratching Post

A cat tree or post should be sturdy, yet tall enough for your cat to stretch out their entire body on. Make sure it's covered in cat-friendly material like hemp or sisal rope to promote scratching. I'd advise against anything that looks or is the same fabric as your upholstered victims.

Another fan favorite is a scratch pad. These scratchers, called lounges, are refillable and double as a cozy napping spot.

Where should cat furniture go?

Avoid placing posts next to the furniture they love to scratch—instead, put them in areas where they tend to hang out. A few key placements in my household are next to their food and water bowl, under their favorite window sill, and under the dining table with this niffy post.

Step 2: Reward them for scratching

Positive reinforcement is the best way to get your cat to scratch where you want them to. Whenever you catch your furry friend clawing on the scratching post, shower them with treats, cuddles (if that's their thing), and praises. They'll learn to associate scratching the post with good things, and this will encourage them to keep doing it.

Put away the spray bottle. Negative reinforcement, like spraying water on them, does not teach better behaviors. Rather, it confused them. Imagine trying to tell your human you love them with a few pulls on the sofa and they douse you with water. Not fun, and not educational.

Tempting Rewards

Use high-value treats to reward good behavior! Purees or lickable treats, like these, are my cat's favorite.

If you need to entice them to use the scratch pad, catnip or silvervine will do the trick. They will eat, roll, and claw over any one of these catnip blends.

Step 3: Trim Their Nails

One reason cats scratch the furniture is that their nails are too long. Regular nail trimming will help prevent your cat from ruining your beautiful upholstery. You can do it yourself with this tool or take them to the vet or groomer.

If you're feeling unsure about trimming their nails, ask our team in-store or your vet for a quick lesson. But, here is a run-down of how to clip your cat's nails:

  1. Use a sharp nail trimmer meant for cat's.
  2. Make your cat comfy! Our method is to hold them in the crook of one arm while holding one paw with the other hand. But, do whatever your cat seems to prefer, err tolerate.
  3. Extend their claws in your hand by pressing your thumb and pointer finger down on the top and bottom of their paw.
  4. Take a little off the top. Clip off the sharp part and leave the "quick" untouched. The quick is very sensitive; cutting into this area will likely cause bleeding and pain.
  5. Take your time and reward after each claw you clip!

Once you've nailed the technique, and charmed your cat with treats, it will be an easy addition to their bi-weekly routine.

Step 4: Use deterrents

Certain scents repel cats, and you can use them to your advantage. So, spraying a offensive (to them) scent around the areas where they like to scratch can be effective.

Pet safe deterrent sprays are usually made with a diluted blend of essential oils and scents. The key word is diluted. Because certain essential oils (like citrus) are not safe for cats when used improperly. Here are a few we give the stamp of approval to:

  • This anti-chew spray, made by Skout's Honor, is safe for deterring pets from prized possessions - great for dogs too.
  • Nature's Miracle scratching deterrent spray counters their scent and discourages repeat destructive scratching behavior.
  • Repel insects and scratching with this Wondercide spray! It's not intended for deterring chewing or scratching, but it does the trick.

Other options include double-sided tape or even an aluminum foil cover. They hate the feeling of foil under their paws and will avoid scratching on it.

We were serious about the spray bottle! Don't resort to spraying them with water for punishment. It will do more harm than help.

Put it into practice!

As a cat parent, you want your furry friend to feel comfortable and happy in your home, while still protecting your furniture. By providing scratching posts, rewarding them for scratching post, trimming their nails, and using deterrents, you can stop them from shredding your sofa and redirect their scratching energy to a more appropriate place. It's all about the pivot!

Keep in mind that patience and consistency are key—the more you remind your cat where they should scratch, the easier it will be for them to break the habit. With these tips, you can save your furniture and keep your cat entertained.

Looking for more Pet Parent tips?

Tomlinson's is your go-to pet supply store for natural, healthy pet products in Austin and the Central Texas region. Come shop in-store and we will help you pick out the healthiest products and food for your dog or cat.

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