How to stop cats scratching furniture
Scratching is a natural behaviour for cats, but it’s very upsetting when they turn their claws on your expensive furniture and wallpaper. Daniel Cummings, Behaviour Officer at Cats Protection, explains how to stop your cat destroying your home
Cats don’t scratch wallpaper or furnishings to be naughty - scratching is a very normal behaviour for them, so if your cat is being a bit of a nuisance with their scratching, you need to provide them with a suitable alternative.
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How to stop your cat scratching your favourite furniture
Choose the perfect cat scratching post
There are so many different pet products on the market, that it can be overwhelming when you are trying to decide what to buy. A common error people make is getting a scratching post that is too short, you need a post that is at least 60cm high – tall enough for the average adult cat to stretch right up onto their toes whilst scratching.
Cats also love to lean heavily on their scratching post, so they will be pushing their full body weight against it. As such, make sure your scratching post is heavy enough to support this, and not made of anything flimsy that easily topples over. Most cats scratch vertically, so ensure their scratching post has vertical threads to allow a full range of scratching movements.
How to find the ideal location for your scratching post
Try putting the scratching post next to the area your cat is scratching at. For example, if your cat is scratching a particular chair, put the scratching post next to that chair and make the chair unappealing to your cat. You can do this by putting something shiny or sticky on the chair that will feel unpleasant under your cat’s claws. Try experimenting with bin liners, foil, or sticky back plastic. Carefully test out anything you use so you can be sure it won’t cause any damage to your furniture.
How to encourage your cat to use its cat scratcher
Try rubbing cat mint leaves on your cat’s scratching post to encourage them to use it. Cat mint is the plant that catnip comes from, and it is easily available in most garden centres. You can even try using a good catnip spray or dried catnip to encourage your cat to the scratching post.
Engaging your cat in play around the post with a toy such as a fishing rod will also encourage your cat to make use of it. It’s important to note that forcing your cat to use a scratching post will only serve to put them off. Don’t be tempted to pick up their legs and make them scratch the post, this will likely just stop them from using the post again in the future.
Watch and learn
Many cats like to scratch vertically, so a freestanding vertical scratching post is ideal for them. However, some cats would rather scratch horizontally, so a traditional scratching post won’t be any good. If your cat is a horizontal scratcher, try finding materials that suit their needs. Offcuts of carpet can be a good alternative; you can usually buy these cheaply from a carpet shop or you might even get lucky and score a square for free!
If your cat is scratching your wallpaper, try looking for a corner post that can be attached to your wall. There are a wide variety of different types of scratching posts you can choose from, so before you buy, spend some time watching how your cat scratches and find something to replicate it.
For more information, read our expert guide on managing your cat’s behaviour.
Daniel Cummings BSc (Hons), MSc (AWSEL)
Daniel graduated with a degree in Zoology with Animal Behaviour from the University of Wales. Since then he has worked as a trainer and behaviourist with some of the largest rescue and rehoming charities in the UK, most recently working for the Dogs Trust before currently working as a behaviourist for the UK’s largest cat charity. Daniel has recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law from the University of Winchester and is a volunteer dog trainer for a charity which trains pet dogs to provide assistance for clients with disabilities.
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