The day had arrived. It was time to take the plunge and move in with my girlfriend…what was my biggest concern you ask? That she had a nice brand new black leather couch, and I had a cat! A question I am certain many cat owners have contemplated for years is, why do cats scratch the furniture? I simply needed to explore this topic in greater detail, and get answers quickly!
Where there is a problem there is always a solution. I had to find a way to prevent my cat from ruining her new couch. So, I had to act fast! I dove in and did extensive research on ways to get cats to stop scratching the furniture.
The first thing I needed to do was to find out exactly why my handsome feline friend does this in the first place. Understanding why in any situation is a great place to start. A truly puzzling and perplex question indeed.
I had to find answers for many reasons. One, was to learn more about why cats scratch the furniture in the first place for my own nerdy cat obsessed self, and the other reason was far more pressing…to avoid Silvio scratching her leather couch and sending my girlfriend into an uproar, and regret inviting me and Uncle Sil to cohabitate with her.
You can sense the state of emergencies here I am sure!
Why Do Cats Scratch the Furniture?
First of all it is a great form of exercise for them, to stretch and retract their claws. Especially if you have an indoor cat. They need to stretch and move their muscles to stay limber.
They also scratch things such as beautiful plush couches and chairs to sharpen their claws, and to help them remove the outer sheaths of their claws.
Another reason cats scratch the furniture is for both visual and olfactory scent markers. A domestic cat’s sense of smell is about fourteen times as strong as humans, meaning that cats have a more acute sense of smell than humans. Hence, cats are big on marking their territory and one way to do that is by clawing at furniture in your home.
Cats have interdigital glands, which are located between the pads of their paws, which leave odors behind so that other cats know that area has been marked. When cats scratch objects such as the furniture, they leave small gouges and claw marks, which are visual signals to other cats that there is a cat that has claimed this as being his or her territory!
There is also a good chance that your cat is scratching the furniture because they have not been provided with proper scratching posts. Unfortunately if there is not an adequate scratching post for your kitty to claw they tend to gravitate towards expensive material such as couches, arm chairs, carpets, and even your plush mattress. Nothing but the best for our feline friends!
Keep in mind that in the wild, scratching sites for felines are usually located in areas where the cats spend a fair portion of their time. The location of certain furniture in your home may appear as a great place for your cat to “mark their territory” and provide a visual signal to let others know this is his or her turf, or its as simple as your cat wanting to get a good scratch in after waking from a nap.
Plan of Attack to Combat the Scratch
I have often said you can’t train a cat. It’s not so much that you can’t train cats, as it is more that they just want to do whatever they feel like doing or not doing. This is one of the many reasons that I love cats. They are independent, entitled, and loyal companions (when they want to be).
The question is, what are some plans of attack you can prepare for to deter your cat from scratching the furniture?
One great way to “discipline” your cat is to arm yourself with a water spray bottle. My girlfriends niece came armed with a water gun to our family BBQ last weekend, and let me just tell you no one enjoyed getting sprayed by her water gun. You can only imagine a cat would feel quite the same.
Next time your cat is misbehaving and doing something they shouldn’t be doing fire off a quick spritz from your spray bottle. There is a good chance after a few times of “water discipline” your cat will get the idea and the next time you reach for the spray bottle it will likely deter your cats bad behavior.
Ways to Get Cats to Stop Scratching the Furniture
My cat Mr. Grey was a big fan of “marking his territory” on my beautiful furniture. It was like a living room full of really high end scratching posts for him. Quite the expensive way for him to sharpen his claws and get a little exercise, wouldn’t you say?
When I got my second all Grey cat, Silvio, I was determined to find a way to prevent him from clawing up my new furniture. The key to all of this is to start them using scratching posts from day one.
My experience has shown me that once the cat has gotten into the bad habit of using the furniture as a scratching post, it is harder to get them to break that habit and learn to use the new scratching post. You can’t teach an old cat new tricks!
Here are a few ways to get cats to stop scratching the furniture.
- Location Location Location! Place the scratching post in close proximity to the furniture your cat is presently using as his or her scratching post. As your cat starts to become familiar with their new post, you can slowly move it to the location of your choice. Don’t rush this process, cats don’t like change so going slow is key.
- Place double-sided tape on the areas of the couch or furniture that your cat is prone to scratch. This keeps cats from scratching the furniture because they don’t tend to like the way it feels on their claws or paws.
- Try offering a variety of products for your cat to get their scratch on! I recommend scratching posts, cardboard scratch pads, carpeted and sisal rope posts. You could even get more rustic and offer your cat a piece of untreated wood, as that is what many felines scratch in the wild.
- Good kitty behavior can’t go unrewarded! If your king or queen is scratching their post offer rewards such as treats or praise to enforce they are doing the right thing. We all know how much cats love praise. Give credit where credit is due!
The Worst Case Scenario – Cat Ruins Leather couch
There are a couple of ways your cat can scratch your furniture and cause damage. One way is when the cat scratches the seat cushion. These types of scratches are typically light and have not damaged the leather itself, only lightly scratching the coating away.
For damage similar to this, a leather recoloring balm should be sufficient to restore the color of the leather furniture, that has been scratched away. This balm will help blend the scratches in with the surrounding leather.
The second type of damage from cats scathing the furniture is caused by the cat sticking its claws into the leather, when the cat pulls its claws out, it draws out the fibers of the leather. This causes significant damage and the leather becomes rough and leaves your couch looking mangled.
If the area of cat claw damage is rather large I would suggest trying a leather binder, leather repair kit, and a leather colorant kit. If the area of cat claw damage is smaller, you can try a Leather Binder, Leather Repair Kit or a Leather Repair Touch Up Kit.
This is of course the worst case scenario, so I highly recommend trying preventative ways to avoid this stage of the game all together.
Cats Will Be Cats – Humans Must Cat-Proof
Let’s face it cats have claws, cats need claws, cats deserve to have things to scratch that doesn’t involve a $1,600 piece of your furniture or even worse your significant others furniture getting ruined.
Here are my final two suggestions that have worked for me in the past to avoid cats scratching the furniture.
- Get a futon with a nice metal or wooden frame. This worked like a charm for me with Mr. Grey. He was a big arm and back of the sofa scratcher and having a futon eliminated his bad habit completely.
- Get a couch cover. Leather or expensive fabric can easily be protected with a couch cover. There are all shapes, sizes, and colors for you to choose from. Is it ideal? No! You paid a lot of money for your couch and you want to show it off. But, trust me, you won’t want to show it off if it looks like Church the cat from Pet Sematary got his hands on it!
If you are anything like me, you love cat naps. The couch is sacred territory for a quality cat nap with my kitty. Not as pleasurable if the couch is in shreds!
Does your cat claw your furniture? Or has a cat you previously owned scratched your furniture? If so, what steps did you take to ensure that your current cat doesn’t shred your furniture!? What has been your most successful remedy to get cats to stop scratching the furniture?
Yours in Kitty Health,
Founder of The Cat Chronicles