How to Stop Cats From Scratching Furniture – Answered In Detail

My cat behaviour consults frequently have a central topic. A few weeks ago, I started to notice a lot of cats hanging out on kitchen counters and relaxing on computer keyboards, upsetting their owners. How to discourage cats from scratching furniture was the focus of the consultations last week. A particular consultation stands out.

They have three cats, Pantera, Bugatti, and Enzo, and live with their husband, five-year-old kid, and three cats. The home where the family resides is warm and furnished with antiques and plush carpets. The furniture is adored by all, even the cats. The two elegant sofas and an antique chair are the three cats’ favorite spots. Additionally, Shelly’s preferred oriental rug is the target of Pantera’s claw activities.

Thankfully, Shelly is completely opposed to declawing. But, now at a breaking point, she is seriously considering finding new homes for the cats in order to save her furniture. Reluctant to rehome them, but wanting unscarred furniture, she contacted me for advice on how to stop cats from scratching furniture.

An instinctive behavior

Is your cat causing the furniture to scratch? How to stop cats from clawing furniture is provided here. Thinkstock and 5second photography.
Let’s examine cat scratching tendencies before we consider ways to prevent cats from scratching furniture. All cats scratch things; Shelly’s cats are not exceptional. Even cats with no claws scratch. All felines exhibit the same innate and natural behavior. How to get cats to scratch in the appropriate places.

Why do cats scratch?

Another thing to consider when learning how to stop cats from scratching furniture — why cats scratch in the first place.

  1. Cats use scratching as one of their communication methods. On the underside of each of their paws are scent glands. Each cat has an own signature that is “stamped” on the items they scratch. Scratching is an animal’s way of establishing territory and letting other animals know things about them. Another visual cue is the damage that can be seen as a result of scratching.
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2. A displacement behaviour is scratching. Cats who are conflicted or stressed out frequently scratch. They occasionally scratch when forced to decide between competing behaviours. They are not the only ones who are experts at engaging in acts that cause displacement. People are as well. When under pressure or presented with difficult choices, we frequently scratch our heads, sharpen pencils, nibble our fingernails, and engage in other entertaining—and perhaps annoying—activities.

3. Nothing is more wonderful after a nap than a gentle stretch and a contented scratch.

4. Nearby objects are frequently scratched during play. While the cat mulls over his next move during a noisy play session, scratching may help burn off excess energy.

5. Cats also scratch to maintain their nails. Although cats do not really “sharpen their claws” when they scratch, scratching does help eliminate the old nail sheaths and promotes the healthy growth of new claws. Essentially, cats give themselves perfect manicures when they scratch.

Although scratching is mandatory, Shelly’s cats do not have to focus their sharp attentions on the antique furniture and the oriental rug.

How to get cats to scratch in the appropriate places

In order to learn how to stop cats from scratching furniture, you need to get cats to scratch where you want them to. People like Shelly can have the best of both worlds. She can save her antiques and keep her cats. She will need to make the furniture off-limits, while simultaneously addressing the cats’ needs and reinforcing them for their good behaviors.

Here are the three steps Shelly, and people like her, will need to keep in mind when it comes to how to stop cats from scratching furniture: 

  1. The targeted furniture needs to become objects that do not feel good to scratch. Shelly should either stick double-sided tape on the scratched areas or cover them with sheets or fabrics that are not conducive for scratching.
  2. The cats need something more appropriate to focus their claws on. At the same time Shelly makes the targeted areas unavailable, she needs to place tall, stable scratching posts directly in front of the blocked areas. She should also place a horizontal scratcher on the carpet, on top of the area Pantera is shredding. Although scratchers need to be made out of materials that the cats love to scratch, they should not be the same texture as the sofas and carpets.
  3. Shelly needs to reinforce the cats whenever she catches them in the act of scratching the posts and horizontal scratchers. Affection, treats and clicker training work well for reinforcing and rewarding good behavior. The reinforcement will also help insure that the cats will continue to favor the approved furniture and ignore the antiques.

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How to stop cats from scratching furniture

While yelling at the cats may temporarily stop them from misbehaving, it does not teach them not to scratch permitted furniture and can have undesirable side consequences, as Shelly saw. Her ranting caused her cats to scratch the carpet and antiques more forcefully.

Shelly will need some time to put the plan together and put everything in place. She can cover her cat’s claws with nail caps in the interim to protect her furniture from scratches. This is a short-term fix while she teaches her three cats to ignore the antiques and pay attention to the horizontal scratchers and scratching posts instead.