How to stop cats from scratching furniture

Is your cat scratching furniture and pushing you up the wall all the time? As bad as the behavior may sound to some owners, cats are just playing to their natural instincts and scratching is an important part of cats’ everyday lives.

Pam Johnson-Bennett, an author and former vice president of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, told newsweek Scratching is a normal and beneficial behavior for cats and serves many important functions. “Scratching is used to keep the claws in good condition by removing the outer dead sheath to reveal new, healthy claws,” she said.

Vicki Joe Harrison, president of The International Cat Association (TICA), told newsweek That scratching is “a fundamental innate urge for all cats, not just kittens,” and it’s something they do throughout their lives.

As this is expected behavior, it’s up to you to provide other scratching options for using them, “otherwise they’ll scratch your furniture,” says Zazie Todd, author of the forthcoming book PURR: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy, Told Greeley Tribune.

Here we take a closer look at how to stop cats from scratching furniture and why they enjoy doing it.

A cat is scratching the edge of the sofa. Scratching allows the cat to express its emotional state ranging from anxiety and frustration to happiness and beyond.
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Why is my cat scratching my furniture?

Harrison said that in addition to strengthening their nails, cats scratch furniture to relieve anxiety, as a form of exercise, to stretch their muscles, as well as to mark their territory.

Cats usually scratch furniture to mark their territory in your seating area. The TICA president explained, similar to dogs, cats have scent glands in their paw pads that “leave their scent on everything.”

Johnson-Bennett said cats scratch for both visual and olfactory markings. “The paws make marks that other cats can see from afar. The scent glands in the paw pads release olfactory marks to provide odor information.”

Scratching is a “displacement behavior” that allows cats to express various emotional states in addition to anxiety, from frustration to joy and beyond, the authors said.

He said that scratching gives cats a whole-body stretch, which helps keep their muscles and spine flexible.

How can I get cats to stop scratching furniture?

cover your furniture

“The best way to prevent cats from scratching furniture is to avoid it altogether,” Harrison said. “When your sofa is covered in a tightly woven fabric, such as suede or a synthetic indoor-outdoor material, your cat will have a harder time getting its paws on, and hopefully the sofa will become a lot less interesting to him.”

avoid certain clothes

Vicki Joe Harrison of TICA: “It’s hard not to tempt your cat with the soft, sloping sides of the sofa, which sometimes look scratchy,” warns Harrison. “However, there are some fabrics to consider and others you may want to avoid when choosing a new sofa.”

“Avoid Nubby Textiles,” urged Harrison. “Coarse or coarse fabrics as well as loose weave or looped upholstery on vertical surfaces are the worst when it comes to wooing a kitten. When cats paw, they want to remove the outer layers of their claws. because new ones grow, which leads to stretching. Fascinating on a rough vertical surface.”

A Kitten Is Tearing Through A Box.
A kitten is tearing through a box. Some cats will use the bottom of a cardboard box to scratch.
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Provide scratching post

Harrison explained that in most cases it is a matter of distraction, providing an “acceptable alternative to not denying them this daily ritual” of scratching. “Products like FeliScratch by Feliway redirect the cat scratch to the scratching post,” she said.

According to Todd, research shows that when provided with “the right kind of scratching post,” cats will use them.

There is also an association between the use of positive reinforcement and cats using their position. So every time your cat uses their scratching post, you can reward them with food. “This will increase their chances of using the scratching post again,” she said.

Johnson-Bennett also highlighted the importance of providing good quality scratching posts, advising that they should be placed in “socially important” areas of the home.

Todd also said that anyone who has multiple cats in the household should also provide multiple scratching posts, as you would with food resources around the home.

Choosing the right scratching post

Below are some important aspects to keep in mind when choosing the best scratching post for your cat.


According to Todd, many scratching posts on the market are quite flimsy or small and “many people choose ineffective scratching posts,” Johnson-Bennett said. But you want to be a tall and strong one, both advised.

Johnson-Bennett said: “The post should be tall enough for a cat to get full stretch. It should also have a heavy base so the cat can put all the weight on the post to scratch without going up.”

A Kitten On A Cat Tower.
A kitten on a cat tower. Cat trees can serve as scratching posts.
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Johnson-Bennett advises against buying carpet-covered posts because “cats don’t like to scratch that texture,” adding that sisal is generally the “most paw-attractive” material.

Todd agreed that most cats prefer a sisal rope post, but you can also get a post made from carpet or wood.

Harrison said: “Thick carpet or bound rope scratch posts often make the most attractive scratching and attackable surfaces.”


Some cats also like to scratch horizontally, so owners can also find cat scratching mats or pads, which are usually made of corrugated cardboard, Johnson-Bennett said.

Todd said that “some cats will even scratch the bottom of cardboard boxes,” while cat trees can also provide a good scratching surface for them.

Arched Cat On Scratch Pad.
A cat perched on top of a scratching pad on the floor. Some cats also like to scratch horizontally.
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Don’t punish your cat for scratching

Pam urges you to “never punish a cat for scratching or try to stop the behavior without supplying an acceptable and cat-attractive replacement.”

Scratching is healthy emotionally and physically, so if you want cats to stop scratching furniture you need to provide a better alternative, she said.

Todd agreed that you should never punish cats for scratching furniture. In addition to scratching as a natural behavior—meaning “they have to do it somewhere”—the act also involves punishing cats for fear or stress-causing risks and “they can associate that stress with you,” the authors said. .

A Cat Is Scratching The Side Of A Ladder.
A cat is scratching the carpet under the ladder. Scratching is a natural behavior for cats and serves several important functions.
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