10 Ways to Prevent Furniture Scratching by Cats

Your cat will never lose her natural scratching instincts, but with love and nurturing you can teach her where scratching is tolerated in your home.

kitten claws photo
Place a scratching post in a location that will catch your cat’s attention. By: Lindsey Turner

Underneath all of your cat’s well-liked sweetness may lurk a not-so-well-liked ambition to abuse your furnishings. But are our pets purposely out to destroy our doorways, sofas and carpets? I should think not!

Scratching is a natural instinct to cats. In the wild, scratching is a way to mark their territory. In addition, it removes layers of dead cells from their claws.

While your kitty may opt to scratch near her sleeping area, play area or litter box, chances are she will venture on to include some of your household furnishings in search of the perfect scratching station.

1. Provide approved surfaces.

Your cat can’t be trained to not scratch on your table legs or sofa arms if she doesn’t have anything else to scratch on.

So place a scratching post, climbing tree or strange cat-furniture art thingy in a location that will catch your pet’s attention (perhaps sprinkling it with a bit of catnip).

Sisal rope, wrapped tightly around the post, makes it almost as tough as a tree trunk, compared to carpet covering, which often snags claws. When your pet is using a climbing tree, make sure the tree is snugly secured so that it will not fall and cause injury.

KONG cat scratcher

2. Provide toys that stimulate and exercise.

Sound, smell, texture and movement are all turn-ons to a cat’s curious nature. Offer a variety of playthings so your pet will not become easily bored. Petful recommends the incline cardboard scratcher from KONG that has a cat toy built right into it.

3. A window perch can provide lots of enjoyment.

Just make sure the window is closed so your kitty will not fall out or go running after the bird or squirrel she has been anxiously eyeing.

4. Disguise your furniture with something your cat is not fond of.

Aluminum foil is disliked by many cats because of its sound and feel. (Plastic wrap is also an annoyance, as it clings to cats’ fur — but it can present a choking hazard, so please just save the plastic wrap for the kitchen.)

5. Trim those nails regularly.

Clipping nails deters scratching, or at least destructive cat scratching. Once your cat gets used to the clipping sessions, she may even look forward to it — especially if the end result is always a tasty treat.

6. Feeling evil? Try the inflated balloon trick.

The humble balloon has been known to work pretty well in the fight against furniture scratching. Once your poor cat pops a balloon with her claws, she will be done with that area for quite a while. Important: Make sure you are on-site to pick up the popped pieces so your cat does not swallow them.

7. Keep a spray water bottle handy.

Some pet owners swear by spray bottles of water to prevent furniture scratching by cats when you are at home.

Fair enough if that’s your thing, but there’s a huge catch: Don’t let your cat know that you are the “blast” behind the bottle. The idea is to let her associate her scratching with the sudden blast of water from out of the blue, not you.

8. Spray your furniture with air freshener.

Cats do not like citrus scents and will be looking elsewhere for a place to brush up on their scratching techniques.

9. Place “booby traps” on or around furniture you do not want to be scratched.

You can make these traps by placing a few pennies in an empty soda can and attach it near the area. When your cat begins scratching on the can, the noise will send her running. Or at least that’s the idea.

10. Get rid of kitty “leap pads.”

If it’s high places where your cat loves to scratch (such as on top of a bookcase), make it impossible for her to get there. Remove any chairs, stools or tables that she may be using as a leap pad.

A Word About Declawing

You may have noticed that declawing, which may seem to be the simplest way of protecting furniture from your cat, was not included in my list. Declawing is not only inhumane; it is an act of cruelty.

How would you like to have your finger cut off to the first knuckle because your instincts made you do something unfavorable? Declawing can cause both physical and psychological effects to your pet.

Also, please do not resort to physical punishment in attempts to thwart your cat’s scratching behaviors. This will only cause your pet to be afraid of you.

Worse comes to worse, you might consider switching to cat-friendly furniture.

Whichever method you choose, realize that your cat will never lose her scratching instincts, but with a little love and nurturing she may be taught where the scratching is tolerated.

Gayle Hickman

View posts by Gayle Hickman
Gayle Hickman has been researching and writing about pet behaviors since 2011. In addition to Petful, her articles have appeared on Reader's Digest, Yahoo Shine and WebVet, to name a few.

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