You were prepared for your cat to claw their way into your heart, but not scratch up your favourite couch! Why do cats scratch everything from your couch to your carpet and how can you stop them? Petbarn has the answers.

First off, it’s important to understand that scratching is a common and instinctive behaviour for cats and kittens that serves many purposes. Contrary to what you may believe, cats do not scratch because they hate your sofa, they are simply doing what comes naturally to them. You shouldn’t discourage your cat from scratching. Instead, train or direct them to only scratch appropriate items.

Why does my cat scratch everything?

To keep their claws healthy

Have you noticed your cat scratching at coarse materials like wooden chair legs or concrete floors? Cats often scratch at these rough surfaces to file down their nails, removing the old husks and allowing new ones to grow.

To mark their territory 

Cats have scent glands in their paws and scratching releases pheromones, an odour which human noses can’t smell, that stakes their claim to an area. Much like how dogs scratch the ground or pee on things in their environment, scratching around their home with is your cat’s way of saying, “This space is mine!”

As an emotional release

Scratching is a self-soothing behaviour that allows your cat to relax.

For physical exercise 

Another reason why your cat is scratching up a storm is that they’re just playing! When scratching, cats stretch out their bodies and make use of different muscles allowing them to get their daily exercise fix.

How can I stop my cat from scratching my furniture?

Provide your cat with a scratching post

The best way to stop your cat from scratching your furniture is to provide them with a scratching post. To encourage your cat to focus their claws on this instead of your carpet, place the scratcher near where your cat has already been scratching, or in areas that they enjoy frequenting.

Scratchers come in all sorts of styles and textures so you can find the best one for your cat. Things to consider when choosing a cat scratcher include their size, height and weight, material and physical features such as places to take a nap, or dangling toys to play with.

If you have more than one cat, make sure they each have their own scratching post as they may not like to share. Keep these scratchers separate from one another so they can each have their own space.

Redirect unwanted behaviour

To teach your cat what is and isn’t appropriate to scratch, gently redirect them to their scratch post when you spot them clawing your carpet, for example. This can be done through catching their attention with a wand toy and using that to lead them over to their post. Dangle the toy across their scratcher until you’ve transferred their attention to this item. Make sure to praise your cat when they interact with their scratching post and perhaps even hide tasty treats on it so that they learn that this is where you want them to scratch.

Play with them

Playing with your cat is a fun and effective way to stop them from scratching your furniture as this physical activity helps them to burn off some energy, making them less likely to seek another outlet later. Playtime also provides mental stimulation and environmental enrichment which helps to relieve stress and to strengthen your bond, so make sure you provide your cat with a whole range of fun toys that you can rotate in and out so they never become bored of them!

Make your furniture an unattractive place for scratching

To stop your cat from scratching your couch, carpet, door and other furniture, why not make these places unappealing to your feline friend’s claws? One way to discourage your pet from putting their claws where they shouldn’t is covering these places with double-sided tape like Sticky Paws or aluminium foil which your cat will find unpleasant to touch. Soon enough they’ll learn to avoid these areas and instead will concentrate on playing with their fun scratching post.

Need more advice?

For more advice on how to stop your cat from scratching your furniture and other items that they shouldn’t, just ask your local Petbarn team member or get in touch with your Greencross Vets team who will be happy to provide you with professional advice on any behavioural issues.