how to get my cat to stop scratching the couch

  1. Provide appropriate scratching alternatives, such as scratching posts.
  2. Make your furniture less attractive to scratch on.
  3. Keep your cat’s nails trimmed so they’re not so sharp.
  4. Consider a claw cap for your cat, such as Soft Paws, to block damage from scratching.

Why Do Cats Scratch?

Understanding why your cat scratches your couch or other furniture in the first place is necessary before you can teach her not to do so. Cats scratch things for several reasons, including:

  • To stretch. A cat’s body’s muscles and tendons, from her toes to her neck and shoulders, benefit from exercise and stretching when she scratches.
  • To mark. Scent glands on a cat’s paws release scents when it scratches objects, designating her territory. It’s critical that feline social structures employ this communication technique. She will feel compelled to communicate in this way even if you are the only cat owner in your home.
  • To maintain claw health. When necessary, scratching aids in a cat’s periodic shedding of the outer nail husk, maintaining the health of the claw.
  • To feel good. Scratching just feels great to cats. It reduces stress and lessens the chance that your cat will pick up additional undesirable habits.

Now that you know why scratching is important to cats, you might wonder if it would be best just to have your cat declawed, so you dont have to worry about ruined furniture. Its important to understand that declawing a cat is an amputation of the digits up to the first joint. Its painful, fraught with possible complications during and after surgery, and changes the way your cat walks, balances, and interacts with her world. You can learn more about why declawing is considered inhumane by many people, is banned in several countries, and may be made illegal in some US cities soon in this article: “Declawing Cats: Banning Declaw Surgeries.”

Don’t punish your cat for scratching

It may sound like a cat wrote this section, but it’s true that our feline friends don’t respond well to punishment. You will only succeed in making your cats nervous because it is unlikely that they will associate your harsh words or tone with the scratching.

Try rewarding your cat for the desired behavior instead. “They’ll be more likely to use their scratching post in the future if you observe them using it and you wait until they’re done before giving them a treat,” says Todd.

Protect your furniture from scratching

There are various ways to protect the sofa, though some are more visually appealing than others.

You can wrap your furniture with a product such as Sticky Paws — essentially double-sided tape that makes scratching feel less satisfying for many cats. Galaxy uses these types of products as a training tool: “It doesn’t mean for the rest of your life with this couch or cat you’re going to need to keep that stuff on there. They’re going to learn.” He also stresses that this tactic only works if you provide another outlet for scratching.

Additional options include covering a scratch-prone area with throw blankets or protecting the lower portion of a chair or sofa with a material like sisal.

When choosing new furniture, consider the materials that your cats enjoy scritching. Select furniture that is upholstered in softer materials, like velvet or leather, if they enjoy textured textiles. Because new furniture doesn’t yet have your pheromones on it, Todd says it also presents a fresh opportunity to train your cat. “It’s likely that something new you’re bringing home will smell different, so it’s a good idea to make sure your scratching post is positioned correctly,” she says.