Why do cats scratch furniture?
Cats make great pets, they are loving and playful, however it’s probably fair to say few things are as frustrating as their furniture scratching antics.
It is however important to recognise that this is completely normal behaviour, in the wild they will scratch trees and other resistant surfaces.
They do this for several reasons.
Firstly, cats are active animals, by scratching they can stretch and exercise their muscles and joints, helping them keep in good physical shape.
They also use a resistant surface to remove the husks from their nails to reveal their sharp claws underneath.
This is necessary for hunting and their survival (if they were in the wild).
In the process of all this scratching cats release pheromones from their paws, this marks their territory and a spot which they will return to continually to scratch.
Unfortunately, in the home this can mean a certain piece of furniture becomes a target to a barrage of claws.
Another reason for this behaviour may be boredom, cats love to play and are naturally inquisitive so may investigate different textures around the home.
Not usually a problem, unless of course that texture is the fabric on your new sofa.
Finally, some cats may scratch due to anxiety.
It is important to note that this can be no fault of the owners but be caused by other things outside of the home, such as loud noises from a busy street.
How to stop furniture scratching?
1) Pre Train Your Cat to Scratch Other Objects
One of the best ways to stop furniture scratching is to train your cat before it makes it part of its behaviour.
When you get a new cat or a piece of furniture you should introduce your cat to a scratch post and encouraging them to interact with it through toys.
2) Use Sisal Fibre
Some of the best scratch posts are made from sisal fibre, this material provides a resistant surface like the tree bark they would usually scratch in the wild.
3) Relive Your Cats Boredom
If you think that your cat is scratching out of boredom then it may be valuable to introduce more play into their day.
You could do this with a cat climbing wall.
Alternatively, some exciting toys for your cat may relive boredom.
Certain scratch posts come with toys already attached or part of a cat climbing tree, these can keep your cat entertained for hours without the need of human interaction.
4) Use Scratch Objects that Resemble Furniture
This may best attract your cat’s attention if it resembles the size shape and texture of an already attacked piece of furniture.
For example, a cylindrical scratch post may be used to divert attention from a table leg, or a scratch mat may be best suited to reduce carpet clawing.
These scratch posts and pads should be placed in the area where the cat is already scratching as it may be easier to transfer their attention.
5) Use Synthetic Pheromones to Transfer their Attention
A synthetic pheromone solution could be applied to the new scratch post as it will replicate the scent of territorial scratching and encourage the cat to investigate.
6) Remove Natural Pheromones From Furniture through Cleaning
Efforts should also be invested in removing the natural pheromones that the cat will have excreted onto the targeted piece of furniture through their paws.
To do this clean the scratched section of furniture thoroughly.
Again, specialist cat products can be brought to help with this process, although it may be cheaper to start off by trying hot water and soap.
7) Attach a Scratch Cover
If this fails a last resort may be to protect the piece of furniture with a scratch cover that can be attached to it.
For example, there are a variety of specialist covers available on Amazon that strap to the arms of a sofa, protecting it while still allowing a cat to scratch that area.
Alternatively, a scratch cover made from Perspex or double-sided sticky tape may work.
These products are smooth so the texture of these will not provide the resistance cats look for and should therefore discourage them from this area.
If a sticky cover is used it is recommended that this is weak enough not to damage a cat’s paw pads.
8) Relieve Anxiety
Finally, if scratching behaviours appear to be anxiety related then try to work out what is the source of the anxiety.
With this you may be able to change things and relieve some of your cats stress.
For example, if you live on a noisy street then you could create a quiet area for your cat in your home.
It may be best to consult a behavioural specialist or vet to get to the root cause of that anxiety.