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Effective Strategies for Preventing Destructive Scratching in Cats

Cats scratching furniture is a common issue, but with a little understanding and some simple strategies, you can still own nice furniture and not have to worry about your furry companion ripping it to shreds!

tabby cat scratching on a couch

In this tutorial, I’ll explore effective and humane ways to deter your cat from using your furniture as their personal scratching playground. From understanding why cats scratch to practical tips and tricks, I’ll equip you with the knowledge you need to maintain your sanity and your sofa intact.

First, it is important to understand that scratching is a natural function for cats that fulfills a variety of needs. Cats scratch for a few reasons. First, it helps them take care of their claws by keeping them healthy and sharp. Second, scratching helps them stretch their bodies. Third, it's a way for them to mark their territory, both visually and by leaving their scent behind. And finally, it is a displacement activity that allows them to release tension or excess energy.

If your cat is scratching in places you don't want them to, there are a few things you can do.

First, you will need to make their current scratching location unavailable or undesirable. You can make those places less appealing by covering them with things they don't like, such as the rough side of a carpet runner, a shower curtain liner, a blanket, bubble wrap, or sticky tape.

To encourage your cat to scratch somewhere else, provide them with scratching surfaces they like. Every cat has their own preferences for scratching either vertically or horizontally (or both!)and of the substrate. The most popular substrates are carpet, sisal, and cardboard. Look at where you cat is already scratching for clues as to what their preferences are. Then try to find a scratching post or mat that matches their preferences. You will also want to make sure the scratcher is big enough for them to stretch out on and sturdy enough to bare their weight. If the scratcher wobbles or topples over on them, they likely won’t return to it.

4 kittens playing on a cat scratcher made of sisal

Put the scratching surfaces in important areas of your home or near where your cat already scratches. It's important to find the right spot, so you might need to move them around a bit. Remember, the scratching areas should be easily accessible to your cat, even if they might not be in the most convenient place for you.

You can attract your cat to the new scratching surfaces by spraying them with catnip, dragging an interactive toy across them, or giving treats on them. If you have old scratching surfaces that your cat has used before, you can use these methods to get them interested in using those again too. Give them lots of praise and treats when they scratch on the scratcher. This helps them understand that scratching in the right place is a good thing.

If you see your cat heading towards an unacceptable scratching spot, distract them with something else like a toy or throwing a ping pong ball nearby. Then, lead them to the new scratching surface and reward them when they use it.

black cat sitting on the arm of a couch

Remember, it might take some time and patience, but with these strategies, you can help your cat learn to scratch in the right places, but, if after reading this, you still need personalized help, I’m happy to work with you one-on-one!


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