Why Do Cats Scratch Furniture and How to Redirect This Behavior

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Cats scratching furniture can be frustrating for many pet owners. But before you get stressed, let’s understand why cats have this behavior and how we can redirect it. Scratching is a natural and necessary behavior for cats that helps them in several ways. They scratch to remove dead nail sheathes, stretch and strengthen their muscles, and mark their territory. So, it’s important for us to provide them with appropriate alternatives and redirect their scratching behavior away from our beloved furniture.

Key Takeaways:

  • Scratching is a normal behavior for cats, necessary for their physical and psychological well-being.
  • Redirecting cat scratching behavior requires providing suitable alternatives like scratching posts and furniture.
  • Using humane deterrents and regularly trimming your cat’s claws can help prevent damage to furniture.
  • Offering plenty of toys and playtime can redirect your cat’s energy and scratching instinct.
  • Declawing is inhumane and harmful to cats, so it’s not recommended as a solution.

Why Cats Scratch Furniture

Cats have a natural instinct to scratch, and furniture often becomes their target. Understanding why cats scratch furniture can help us find appropriate alternatives to redirect this behavior. Scratching serves multiple purposes for cats, including marking territory, removing dead nail sheathes, stretching muscles, and relieving stress.

One of the primary reasons cats scratch furniture is to mark their territory. Cats have scent glands in their feet, and scratching allows them to leave their scent and communicate with other cats. It’s their way of saying, “This is mine!” Scratching also helps cats remove the dead outer layers of their claws, keeping them sharp and healthy. In addition, scratching is a form of exercise that helps cats stretch their muscles and release pent-up energy.

It’s important to note that scratching is a natural behavior for cats and should not be discouraged completely. Instead, we should provide them with appropriate alternatives and redirect their scratching behavior to more suitable surfaces.

The Importance of Providing Scratching Alternatives

To prevent cats from scratching furniture, it’s crucial to offer them suitable scratching alternatives. By providing dedicated scratching posts and furniture, we can fulfill their instinctual need to scratch while protecting our valuable belongings. Scratching posts should be tall and sturdy, allowing cats to fully stretch and engage their muscles. Different textures such as sisal rope, carpet, or cardboard can be appealing to cats and mimic the feel of trees in nature.

Placing the scratching posts in areas where cats already scratch or where they spend most of their time increases the chances of them using the alternatives. It’s essential to make the scratching posts more enticing than the furniture by rewarding cats with treats or praise when they use the posts. Consistency and positive reinforcement are key to successfully redirecting their behavior.

In addition to providing suitable scratching alternatives, it’s crucial to discourage cats from scratching furniture. Using humane deterrents like double-sided tape or citrus scents on the furniture can make it unappealing to cats. Regular nail trims, offering plenty of toys and playtime, and using nail caps can also help redirect their energy and satisfy their natural scratching instinct.

Reasons Why Cats Scratch FurnitureRedirecting Cat Scratching BehaviorHow to Stop Cats From Scratching Furniture
Marking territoryProvide suitable scratching alternativesOffer dedicated scratching posts
Removing dead nail sheathesPlace the scratching posts strategicallyUse humane deterrents on furniture
Stretching musclesReward cats for using the alternativesRegular nail trims
Relieving stressDiscourage cats from scratching furnitureProvide plenty of toys and playtime

By understanding the reasons why cats scratch furniture and providing appropriate alternatives, we can redirect their behavior and prevent damage to our cherished furniture. Redirecting scratching behavior not only protects our belongings but also promotes our cats’ physical and psychological well-being.

Redirecting Cat Scratching Behavior

Redirecting cat scratching behavior is essential to prevent damage to furniture and redirect your cat’s natural instinct to more appropriate alternatives. By providing suitable scratching options, using humane deterrents, and engaging your cat in play and exercise, you can successfully redirect their scratching behavior.

One effective way to redirect your cat’s scratching behavior is by providing scratching posts/furniture. Place these in areas where your cat already scratches or where you prefer them to scratch. It’s important to offer a variety of scratching options with different textures and surfaces to mimic trees and outdoor surfaces they may be attracted to. This variety can help redirect their behavior and prevent furniture damage.

Humane deterrents can also discourage cats from scratching furniture. Double-sided tape placed on furniture can feel unpleasant to cats when they try to scratch. Citrus scents, which cats dislike, can also be used as a deterrent by spraying them on furniture. These deterrents can help redirect your cat’s scratching behavior to more appropriate alternatives.

Redirecting Cat Behavior

Redirecting cat behavior is not limited to scratching alone. By engaging your cat in play and exercise, you can redirect their energy and prevent unwanted behaviors. Providing plenty of toys and interactive play sessions can help satisfy your cat’s natural instincts and reduce the likelihood of furniture scratching.

Regular nail trims are essential in redirecting cat scratching behavior. By keeping your cat’s claws trimmed, you can minimize the damage caused to furniture when they do scratch. Additionally, using nail caps can further protect furniture from scratches by covering your cat’s claws.

Remember, redirecting cat scratching behavior requires patience and consistency. It may take time for your cat to adjust to the new scratching options provided. Reinforce positive behavior by rewarding your cat when they use the scratching posts/furniture instead of the furniture. With time and effort, you can successfully redirect your cat’s scratching behavior and create a harmonious environment for both you and your feline friend.

Redirecting Cat Scratching BehaviorRedirecting Cat Behavior
Provide suitable scratching posts/furnitureEngage your cat in play and exercise
Offer a variety of scratching optionsProvide plenty of toys and interactive play sessions
Use humane deterrentsRegular nail trims and using nail caps
Reinforce positive behavior 

How to Stop Cats From Scratching Furniture

Cats scratching furniture can be frustrating, but there are several effective ways to redirect their behavior and prevent damage to your beloved pieces. By providing suitable alternatives, using deterrents, and implementing regular maintenance, you can successfully train your cat to avoid scratching your furniture.

Alternative Scratching Options

One of the most crucial steps in stopping cats from scratching furniture is to offer them appropriate scratching alternatives. Start by providing scratching posts or furniture that are similar in texture to the furniture they tend to scratch. Place these options near the furniture they frequently target.

Table: Comparison of Popular Cat Scratching Solutions

Scratching SolutionsBenefits
Sisal Rope Scratching PostsProvide a natural feel and encourage cats to stretch and scratch vertically.
Cardboard ScratchersOffer an affordable and disposable option that mimics the texture of furniture.
Carpeted Cat TreesProvide a variety of scratching surfaces and elevated perches for cats to enjoy.

Using Cat Scratching Deterrents

To discourage cats from scratching furniture, consider using cat scratching deterrents. Double-sided tape can be placed on the areas of furniture that cats frequently target, as they dislike the sticky texture. Citrus-scented sprays can also be effective deterrents, as cats typically dislike the smell. It’s important to test these deterrents on a small, inconspicuous area of your furniture first to ensure they don’t cause any damage.

Regular Maintenance and Nail Trimming

In addition to providing alternative scratching options and using deterrents, make sure to regularly trim your cat’s nails. Shorter nails are less likely to cause damage when they do scratch. If you’re concerned about trimming your cat’s nails, consult with a veterinarian or a professional pet groomer for guidance.

Remember to reward your cat with praise, treats, or playtime when they use the appropriate scratching alternatives. Positive reinforcement can help reinforce the desired behavior and make it more likely for your cat to continue using the scratching posts or furniture instead of your cherished pieces.

How to Keep Your Cat From Scratching Furniture

Preventing cat furniture scratching is crucial for maintaining your home’s aesthetics while ensuring your furry friend’s well-being. Redirecting cat behavior towards appropriate scratching surfaces is key. By following these cat scratching solutions and using cat scratching deterrents, you can successfully protect your furniture and keep your cat happy.

Finding the Right Scratching Post

To keep your cat from scratching furniture, provide them with suitable alternatives. Invest in a sturdy and tall scratching post that allows your cat to fully stretch out. Opt for posts with different textures like sisal rope, carpet, or cardboard to cater to your cat’s preferences. Place the scratching posts in areas where your cat spends most of their time to encourage use.

Using Humane Deterrents

Alongside providing scratching alternatives, consider using cat scratching deterrents to prevent furniture damage. Double-sided sticky tape can be applied to furniture surfaces, making them less appealing for scratching. Citrus-based sprays can also deter cats due to their strong scent. Always ensure the deterrents you use are safe and humane for your cat.

Regular Nail Trimming and Playtime

Maintaining your cat’s nails is essential to minimize the impact of scratching. Regular nail trims help keep their claws shorter and less damaging. Additionally, providing plenty of toys and engaging in playtime can redirect your cat’s energy and instinct to scratch. Play sessions also provide mental stimulation, reducing the likelihood of furniture scratching.


Preventing cat furniture scratching requires a combination of strategies. By providing suitable scratching posts, using humane deterrents, regularly trimming your cat’s nails, and providing plenty of playtime, you can redirect your cat’s behavior and protect your furniture. Remember to be patient and consistent in implementing these cat scratching solutions, as it may take time for your cat to adjust.

Training Your Cat to Use Scratching Posts

Redirecting your cat’s behavior and teaching them to use scratching posts can be a rewarding process. By using positive reinforcement techniques, you can encourage your cat to adopt this preferred behavior. Here are some steps to help you train your cat to use scratching posts:

  1. Choose the right scratching post: Select a scratching post that matches your cat’s preferences. Some cats prefer vertical posts, while others prefer horizontal ones. Consider the material, texture, and height of the post to ensure it is appealing to your cat.
  2. Introduce the scratching post: Place the scratching post in an easily accessible and visible location. Show it to your cat and encourage them to explore it by gently running your fingernails over it. This will create an audiovisual cue that scratching this post is desirable.
  3. Use positive reinforcement: Whenever you see your cat using the scratching post, praise them and offer rewards such as their favorite treats or playtime. This positive reinforcement will create a positive association with using the post and encourage them to continue doing so.
  4. Make the furniture less attractive: To further encourage your cat to use the scratching post, make the furniture less appealing. Cover targeted furniture with double-sided tape or aluminum foil, which cats find unpleasant to scratch. This will redirect their attention to the scratching post.

Remember, patience and consistency are key when training your cat. It may take time for them to fully adopt the new behavior, so be patient and continue to reinforce positive scratching habits.

“Training your cat to use a scratching post requires understanding their preferences and using positive reinforcement techniques. By creating a positive association with the scratching post and making the furniture unappealing, you can redirect their behavior effectively.”

Table: Scratching Post Preference

Vertical Scratching PostTall posts that allow cats to stretch their bodies and provide a vertical scratching surface.
Horizontal Scratching PostLow-lying boards or mats that mimic scratching on horizontal surfaces like carpets.
MaterialCommon materials include sisal rope, carpet, cardboard, or wood. Experiment to find the material your cat prefers.
TextureCats may prefer rough or textured surfaces as they provide a satisfying scratching experience.
HeightSelect a post that allows your cat to fully stretch their body to mimic tree trunks in nature.

Making Furniture Less Attractive to Cats

Cats have a natural instinct to scratch, but that doesn’t mean our furniture has to suffer. There are several cat scratching deterrents that can make your furniture less attractive to your furry friend, redirecting their behavior to appropriate alternatives. Here are a few effective strategies:

1. Cover furniture with double-sided sticky tape or aluminum foil

Cats dislike the sticky texture of adhesive tape and the crinkling sound of aluminum foil. By placing these materials on your furniture, you create an unpleasant sensation that can deter your cat from scratching. Be sure to cover the areas where your cat tends to scratch the most.

2. Use citrus-based sprays

Cats have a strong aversion to citrus scents. Spraying a citrus-based deterrent on your furniture can discourage them from scratching. You can either purchase a ready-made deterrent or make your own by diluting lemon juice with water in a spray bottle. Remember to test the spray on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t damage your furniture.

3. Provide alternative scratching surfaces

Give your cat plenty of appealing scratching options. Scratching posts covered in sisal rope or textured cardboard are excellent alternatives that mimic the feel of trees. Place these posts near the furniture your cat tends to scratch, encouraging them to redirect their scratching behavior.

Cat Scratching DeterrentsEffectiveness
Double-sided sticky tapeHighly effective
Aluminum foilEffective
Citrus-based spraysEffective
Alternative scratching surfacesHighly effective

By implementing these strategies, you can make your furniture less appealing to cats and redirect their scratching behavior to more appropriate surfaces. Remember to reward your cat when they use the scratching posts or other alternatives, reinforcing the desired behavior. With patience and consistency, you can protect your furniture while ensuring your furry friend’s needs are met.

Managing Horizontal Surface Scratching

When it comes to preventing cat furniture scratching, it’s essential to address not only vertical surfaces but also horizontal ones like carpets. Cats have a natural inclination to scratch these surfaces, and providing suitable alternatives can help redirect their behavior. One effective solution is to offer scratching boards that closely match the texture of carpets. These boards can be carpet-based or made of cardboard, both of which are attractive to cats due to their tearing and visual cues.

To manage horizontal surface scratching effectively, place multiple scratching boards in high-traffic areas where your cat tends to scratch carpets. This will provide them with a designated space for scratching and help minimize damage to your carpets. It’s important to position the scratching boards near the carpets your cat finds appealing to ensure they are readily accessible.

“Multiple scratching boards strategically placed near your cat’s preferred scratching spots can help redirect their behavior and protect your carpets.” – Cat Behavior Specialist

In addition to providing scratching boards, other techniques can help manage horizontal surface scratching. Regular nail trims can help keep your cat’s claws shorter and reduce their effectiveness in damaging carpets. Another option is using plastic nail caps, which can be applied to your cat’s claws to prevent them from causing any harm. These caps are safe, humane, and temporary, offering an effective solution to protect your carpets.

Pros of managing horizontal surface scratchingCons of managing horizontal surface scratching
  • Redirects cat’s behavior away from carpets
  • Protects carpets from damage
  • Provides a designated space for scratching
  • Requires training and reinforcement
  • May take time for cats to adjust
  • Additional cost for scratching boards and nail caps


Managing horizontal surface scratching is crucial in your efforts to prevent cat furniture scratching. By offering suitable scratching boards that closely resemble the texture of carpets, placing them strategically, and providing regular nail trims or nail caps, you can effectively redirect your cat’s behavior and protect your carpets from damage. Understanding your cat’s natural instincts and providing appropriate alternatives will go a long way in managing their scratching behavior.

Seeking Professional Help

If you’re having trouble redirecting your cat’s scratching behavior, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, cats can be persistent in their desire to scratch furniture. In such cases, seeking professional help from a cat behavior specialist can be a game-changer.

A cat behavior specialist can provide valuable insights and personalized strategies to address your cat’s specific needs. They will observe your cat’s behavior, assess the underlying causes for their scratching, and offer tailored solutions to redirect their behavior.

Working with a professional can greatly increase your chances of success in preventing your cat from scratching furniture. They can guide you in implementing effective training techniques, recommend suitable scratching alternatives, and address any underlying issues that may be contributing to your cat’s scratching behavior.

Remember, seeking professional help is not a sign of failure; it’s a proactive step towards finding the right solutions for your cat. With the guidance of a cat behavior specialist, you can create a harmonious environment for both you and your feline friend.

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