Pet Care 

Furniture scratching in cats

How to keep cats from scratching furniture?

Ask any cat owner what the most frustrating thing is about owning a cat, and most will say it is when they scratch the furniture. Although it is a natural behavioural habit of cats, it can be very damaging to your household.

Why do cats scratch furniture?

Furniture scratching is a normal behaviour for our feline friends. Cats are naturally solitary hunters and scratching is a way for cats to mark their territory. Unfortunately, one of the reasons why the targeted furniture tends to be lounges, pillows, or wooden furniture, is because cats can physically damage the furniture, leaving a visual mark to indicate to ‘potential intruders’ that they are entering into your cat’s territory.

Not only do the scratch marks make a statement, but pheromones are also released through the cat’s paws during the scratching process. That leaves a subtle smell that other cats can pick up and recognise as a territorial warning. In addition to marking territory, cat scratching can aid in nail health and maintenance.

How to stop cats scratching furniture

Managing furniture scratching in cats is a complex problem that can be handled in a variety of ways. Listed below are a few tips to managing this problem:

  • Encourage your cat to use a scratching post.

  • Keep your cat away from the furniture (even if that means a furniture re-fit).

  • Feline pheromone therapy (diffusers and sprays) may be effective.

  • Covers/change of furniture/restriction of access may help.

  • Regular nail trimming can deter scratching.

  • Consider using ‘soft paws’ (plasic nail caps placed after a nail trim). These usually last a month or so.

  • Surgical de-clawing can be considered but in Australia it is considered illegal and inhumane and should only be used in the most extreme of circumstances, if at all. From a veterinary perspective it causes many problems, particularly with respect to balance when climbing. You would have to have a very justifiable reason to find a veterinarian willing to do the procedure.

And don’t forget that your cat obviously feels it’s necessary to mark their territory. They may feel threatened from the addition of a new cat, a new environment, or stray animals outside. Address the underlying cause and you may see some remarkable progress without even needing to begin to consider the above options.

Cat scratching posts

  • Use a material that can be visibly damaged. Otherwise it defeats the purpose of what the cat is trying to do. They need to leave a visible mark for other cats to notice.

  • Keep the scratching post high enough to prevent an outstretched cat reaching the top and knocking it over.

  • Ideally place the scratching post in locations near the furniture currently being scratched. It defeats the purpose of redirecting the cat if the post is hidden where the cat does not go.

  • Always have one more scratching post than the number of cats in your home.

Cat scratching furniture

Furniture scratching is a frustrating problem for cat owners. In attempting to rectify the problem, look to employ a couple of the suggestions listed above, or go see your veterinarian or behavioural specialist.

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