Dealing with your cat’s inappropriate scratching.

The information posted on this blog is based on the author’s personal experience. What works for some pets may not be right for you and yours. Please consult your veterinarian for all of your pet’s health, wellness, dietary, and behavioural issues.
Cat scratching a leather stool

Your beloved cat scratching furniture and other belongings can be a pain. Does it feel like your tiny kitty has tiger-sized claws? Is your couch looking frayed and tattered from their constant attention? 

Tiger stretching and baring claws.

Photo by Richard Verbeek from Pexels

Furniture scratching can be a frustrating behaviour.

Take a deep breath and try to see your cat’s perspective. Remember, your cat has to scratch to keep claws healthy. This behaviour removes the outer sheath and acts like a kitty pedicure. Scent glands in their paw also allow them to mark their territory for other cats. Your cat scratching furniture is an instinctual behaviour.

Want to learn more about what your cat is thinking? Read our blog post.

Photo by Artūras Kokorevas from Pexels

What should you do about inappropriate scratching?

You want your kitty to keep their claws out of your furniture and curtains. There are a few tried-and-true methods.

1. Encourage good scratching behaviour!

  • Provide scratching posts made with a variety of materials and heights. Many cats prefer taller posts and those made of sisal fabric or rope.
  • Place kitty condos or scratching posts near windows. If they can lounge and watch birds, they will be more likely to hang out.
  • Use catnip to make the “good” place to scratch more appealing.
  • Praise them when they scratch in correct spots. 

Black and white cat lounging on a cat tower near an indoor plant and window

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

2. If you catch kitty scratching your furniture, direct them to the scratching post

Yelling or making noise to scare a cat scratching furniture rarely helps the situation. Your pet only learns to fear you and to avoid the behaviour in your presence.

3. Make the couch less attractive (to the kitty, not to guests)

Deter kitty’s efforts. Plastic guards or other covers make the material on your sofa a less desirable spot to scratch. 

4. Address issues with other animals in the home

Remember the scent glands in the paws? Stress means cat scratching behaviour may get worse. Try products with calming pheromones, make sure kitty has safe space for just them, add extra litter boxes and extra scratching posts. 

5. If all else fails, research the pros and cons of claw caps

These soft plastic caps go over a cat’s nail. They don’t stop the scratching but do stop the nail from causing damage. These caps need to be changed frequently and need to be applied well. They can be a good option for some cats. Discuss with your veterinarian if you are unsure if your cat would be helped by this tactic.

Remember, declawing a cat is akin to amputating the toe up to the joint. It is banned by many veterinary associations (including Alberta Veterinary Medical Association) and is illegal in some provinces. It also leaves cats almost defenseless if they find themselves outside or in another dangerous situation. A good veterinarian will educate you on why this is no longer offered as an option.

Fear-free trainers and cat behaviour specialists can be a great resource for additional tips. Know that help is out there. If you’ve read this far —  thanks for being a great pet owner and working with your cat to find solutions!

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About the authors

This blog is written and maintained by GEARS volunteers! We are a mix of animal behaviour enthusiasts, storytellers, adoptive parents, and just plain animal lovers.

Do you have a great GEARS “Happily Ever After” story to share? Are you an expert on dog/cat training methods? We’d love to have you guest post! Send an email to [email protected]

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