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How Can I Stop My Cat From Scratching My Couch? Top 5 Tips And Tricks To Stop Your Cat From Destroying Your Furniture

cat scratching chair

[Writter by Star LaBranche]

Cats are awesome! But like any pet, there can be some behavioral issues, whether it’s the first day you bring them home, or after you’ve had them for years. Lots of people think cats just destroy furniture and that’s how it is, however, something can be done to help curb the unwanted scratching.

As always, changing your cat’s behavior is going to take time and patience, especially if they have been scratching your couch for a while. Don’t get discouraged if your cat doesn’t immediately take to a new, more appropriate, scratching place. Cats scratch as a way to sharpen their claws, get a good stretch, and mark their territory. 

No matter why your cat is scratching, you could help divert their attention to other outlets besides your beloved couch. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can help get kitty scratching on their scratching post, not on your furniture.

cat scratching

1. Make Sure They Have Plenty of Toys They CAN Scratch in the House

Cats need to scratch. If a cat doesn’t have a scratching post they like or a way to stretch out, they might decide your couch is the perfect alternative. It’s important to note that some cats are vertical scratchers, preferring long posts they can rake their nails down. While some cats are horizontal scratchers, wanting nothing more than to scratch something parallel to the ground with their backsides in the air. Watch your cat and see what kind of scratcher they are. 

Once you have an idea what kind of scratcher your cat is, let yourself loose in a pet store with a budget in mind, and see what you can find. If you’re an experienced cat owner, shopping online can be great. But if you’re new to this game, going to a pet store where you can see and touch scratching posts, could help you make a more informed decision.

While looking, keep in mind that your kitty might not be destined to fall in love with the first scratching post you pick out. When I adopted two bonded rescue cats, I made sure to get toys that would appeal to horizontal scratchers and vertical scratchers. It’s a good thing I did, as one of the cats turned out to be a vertical scratcher and the other, a horizontal scratcher. Introducing them to their scratching toys immediately and making sure there were enough for them to choose from, helped curb unwanted scratching behavior before it even started.

gray cat sleeping on tower

2. Make their Scratching Posts Appealing

It’s one thing to buy a scratching post, but it’s another to help make it look attractive to the cat. Although dosing it in catnip does help, sometimes kitty might need a little more encouragement. 

Encourage the cat when they play with the scratching post. Make sure it's in a good area of the house, where they have easy access to it. Cats are social creatures, so don’t banish their toys to a back bedroom. They will most likely want to be around you and your family.

You can also lay out treats on the post at random intervals. The cat can then “discover” the treats and it will encourage them to check out the post and associate it with positive feelings. Dangle toys from the post, if possible, to give kitty another form of play while checking out their toy.

white cat scratching post

3. Use Deterrents On the Couch

If kitty is not getting the hint that the couch is off limits, you may have to add some deterrents to it. Place an approved scratching toy nearby to offer an alternative, and then you can try out a variety of anti-scratching tactics. 

You can wrap the affected area of the couch in tinfoil or tape. You can use commercial sprays that make areas unappealing to cats. You can even use a squirt bottle of water to give kitty a spray when they start scratching. Be careful with this method, however, as sometimes kitties will associate the punishment not with their scratching, but with you. 

sleeping cat with claws showing

4. Do NOT Declaw Your Cat

If you’re running out of options, you might think about declawing. However, this inhumane method of controlling cat scratching is cruel for kitties and expensive for owners. Other ways to control the clawing can include clipping your cat’s nails regularly or using claw caps every few weeks.

Many people think that declawing is simply removing the cat’s claws. After all, it’s in the name. But if you were to theoretically “declaw” a human, you would remove the entire tip of their finger to the first joint, not just the nail. Declawed cats can get infections, experience horrible pain during recovery, and have difficulty walking. When it really comes down to it, your couch might be nice, but it’s not worth making your beloved pet suffer.

short ear cat sitting funny with claws showing

5. Consult Your Vet if Kitty Can’t Stop Scratching

If you have tried everything you can think of and taken every suggestion thrown at you in order to curb unwanted scratching and absolutely nothing has worked, it might be time to take your cat to the vet. Discuss with kitty’s doctor what’s going on and see what might be causing this behavior. The answer could be as simple as your cat acting out in regards to a new family member or furbaby. The solution could also be more complicated. 

Tell your vet the entire story and see if you can get some answers as to why your cat refuses to leave the couch alone. Although most people will be able to curb this behavior without professional intervention, it’s important to remember, there could be something else going on with your cat and their chosen way to tell you something is wrong is to take it out on your couch.

cat hiding behind curtains

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