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How to Keep Your Cat from Scratching Furniture

Learn how to keep your cat from scratching furniture from board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. E'Lise Christensen, DVM in this Howcast video.


Does your cat scratch the furniture at your house? Or you're just worried that she might? That's a pretty common concern and it's really smart thing to be worried about because scratching is a normal behavior of cats. They need to scratch as part of their regular behavioral suite, or what they do on a regular day. It's part in their time budget. If you don't provide a cat a great place to scratch, they won't definitely find one, and it might be your favorite and expensive couch.

What we want to do is figure out what each cat really likes best as far as scratching. Some cats love to scratch horizontally and they'll scratch your carpets, but they'll also scratch horizontal cat scratchers. You can just set them on the floor in those cats' favorite places for scratching. Some cats really like to scratch vertically. The important thing to think about cats that scratch vertically is that you want to make sure that cat tree or the scratching post is high enough so that the cat can really scratch because part of the scratching behavior that is satisfying for cats is being able to put their paws away up and pull down. So, we want to make sure that they have room to really get those claws up.

A lot of times you'll see them doing both paws just like this, and their whole body will go down. So, you want to make sure that that post is tall enough to allow the cat to do that. Different cats like different surfaces for scratching. Some like carpet; some like sisal; some like fabrics; some like plain old solid wood and some prefer leather.

So, make sure that you check out what your cat likes and then get a scratching post or make a scratching area that meets your pet's favorite needs for scratching. Then, if you find that your cat is targeting your furniture anyway, you want to make your furniture less attractive as a scratching area. There's many ways to do that. One easy way is to put some tinfoil over it so that when they go to scratch it doesn't feel very good and it makes funny noise. The other option is to put double-sided sticky tape there. Of course you want to check your fabric and make sure that's okay for the fabric, but that when the cat goes to put their paw on, again it doesn't feel really comfortable. Now, whenever you're using something on a scratching area that your cat is choosing but you don't want them to use, you want to make sure that you're not just making that cat's preferred area for scratching nasty for the cat but also that you're favorite area for the cat to scratch is awesome for the cat. The way that you do that is catch your cat doing things right.

Every time the cat walks by that new scratching post, every time the cat looks at this scratching post, any time the cat certainly would put a paw on scratching post or scratch on it, that's going to be a moment for great celebration. So, you might pat your cat in his favorite place. You could put a little catnip in that area, or give some catnip to your cat while he's at the scratching post. Or you could even make treats rain from the sky by just sprinkling them gently around the scratching post area whenever your cat goes over there. But if you do those things and keep your cat's nails turned you should have a lot of success in your cat's normal scratching behavior. Focus on something everybody can live with. And that's how you teach a cat to scratch on appropriate objects.

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