6 Reasons Why Cats Scratch Furniture

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By Pet Expert Team
Updated: 6/20/20242-4 minutes
striped cat sitting on green couch

If you have a cat that won't stop scratching your furniture, you're probably wondering how to make them stop it, which is why we've put together this handy guide to help you prevent your cat from shredding your sofa!

There’s nothing worse than getting a new sofa and coming home to find that your cat, or kitten has ripped it into ribbons, or finding deep scratches in your freshly painted door frames. Cats scratching furniture can be a real problem, especially if you’re house-proud! Sometimes it may seem that your cat’s out to cause trouble, but it’s important to know that your cat scratching at the carpet and furniture is a deeply ingrained instinct and has numerous benefits to both their health and wellbeing.

Keep reading to find out how to stop cats from scratching furniture and to discover why they always seem to target your favorite spots.

Why Do Cats Scratch Furniture and Carpets?

While it may seem that your cat just likes to destroy things, your cat can be scratching furniture for a number of reasons. The reason for cat scratching can range from a full body workout, scent marking, and boredom, to your cat wanting to maintain the sharpness of their claws.

Scent Marking

If you often find your cat scratching carpets, know that they’re not doing it to try and get on your nerves. Cats’ paws contain scent glands and when they scratch objects, they release a visible and chemical scent marker that identifies their territory in the home. They’re most likely to target prominent and frequently used areas such as carpets or sofas, or even your favorite armchair. This is because scratching these areas will make them feel more secure and relieve stress by putting their scent on things, making them feel more like their home.

Maintaining the Sharpness of Their Claws 

Much like us humans, cats like to keep their nails (claws) nice and healthy, the habit of a cat scratching furniture may also mean that they’re trying to maintain their claws and keep them sharp by shedding their claw sheaths which keeps them in tip-top condition. When this happens, most cats prefer furniture because they’re vertical and have smooth surfaces, making them ideal for sharpening.  

Scratching Out of Boredom

Sometimes cats may do it simply as a result of boredom which is especially common with house cats that aren’t getting enough mental stimulation. So now you know what causes them to do it, but how can you actually stop cats from scratching furniture? 

How to Stop Cats From Scratching Furniture

1. Provide Them With Designated Scratch Places in the Home

The best way to prevent cats from scratching furniture is by providing them with plenty of scratching opportunities inside the home. Outside cats will scratch trees and posts so it’s a good idea to simulate this inside with scratching posts. This will also put a stop to your cat scratching carpet behavior since they will shift their focus to something more appealing.

2. Purchase Good Quality Scratch Posts 

Ensure that you only purchase good quality scratch trees and posts that are strong so they won’t wobble when your cat scratches on them, as this may put them off. You should also make sure that the scratching posts are tall enough for your cat to stretch all the way up so that they can exercise those all-important muscles.

3. Experiment With Different Scratch Fabrics

You can also try providing fabric offcuts, bark-covered logs, softwood remnants, or sisal fiber to provide plenty of variety to keep them entertained. Once they have these fun, easy-to-scratch objects, they’re less likely to target your furniture.

4. Placement is Important

Place the scratching posts and objects throughout your home in places where your cat already likes to relax, or near items that they already scratch (such as the arm of your sofa). Near sleeping spots is also a good idea as most cats enjoy a good stretch and a scratch once they wake up.

If your cat doesn’t appear to be interested in the scratching post, then you might want to consider an option with a dangling toy to encourage them to investigate it or you can get their attention by adding some cat nip.

5. Stop Repeat Offenders

If you’re wondering how to stop cats from scratching furniture over and over again, you should make sure that you clean the object(s) in question thoroughly to remove the scent markings, as cats are more likely to scratch areas where they can smell their scent fading and will want to ‘top it up’. We recommend using a mild, non-toxic solution that’s suitable for the area and then make sure that you keep your cat away from the area until it’s dry.

6. Prevent Boredom Scratching

For cats that scratch furniture out of boredom or lack of exercise consider purchasing some cat or kitten toys and ensure that you schedule in some much-needed playtime with you and your cat. There are loads of cat toys available from electronic mice to teasers, so there’s bound to be an option your cat will love! 

How to Stop Cats Scratching Carpets

If you have a cat that prefers to scratch things horizontally, your carpet may be looking a little worse for wear. The best way to stop cats scratching them is to provide scratching mats around your home and encourage your cat to use them with toys.

Other ways of stopping your cat from scratching carpets include spraying them with a citrus scent or cleaning them with ammonia and vinegar. Cats have very strong noses and dislike certain powerful chemicals or scents like citrus, lavender, or peppermint so these will prove very effective in keeping your cat away from the carpet. Even though you might not smell it for more than a few hours after using them, your cat will smell it for days.

So, now you know how to stop cats from scratching furniture and carpets! Give our advice a go and your favorite chair will be scratch free in no time. Remember to never blame them for scratching things, as this is a cat’s natural instinct and they’re doing it for so many beneficial reasons!

If you are worried that your cat is a little bit too destructive, contact your vet – they’ll always be happy to help. Take a look at our article on cat noises and what they mean, next.


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