Behavior Mod.

Why Do Cats Scratch? How Can I Keep My Cat From Scratching the Furniture?

Though it can be disheartening and even annoying at times, scratching is considered a natural, necessary cat behavior. In fact, it serves a few functions. Whether we like it or not, cats just need to scratch!

However, what is normal for cats can become rather frustrating to deal with for pet owners like us, especially when they destroy our furniture.

young tabby cat laying on couch and how do i stop the cat from scratching

This article will explain why cats scratch and what you can do to teach them not to scratch your furniture.

The Reasons Behind Scratching

Yes, it is normal for cats to scratch objects around them. They do it because:

  • It helps in conditioning their claws by getting rid of the dead outer sheath/layer.
  • It is a means of marking their territory by leaving a visual mark as well as their odor through the scent glands on their paws.
  • Scratching is a way for cats to stretch their entire body at the same time flexing their feet and claws.
  • It is used during play
  • It may also be a means for cats to show dominance by scratching in front of other cats.
cat claw on the upholstery

What Can You Do About a Cat Scratching Problem?

Because scratching in cats is a normal behavior, it is not recommended that we keep our cats from doing it. Instead, what owners can do to resolve the scratching issue is by redirecting the scratching onto acceptable objects.

cat scratching biting and clawing at corrugated scratching post

To help you establish tolerable scratching habits in your cat, consider the following pointers:

  • For kittens and newly acquired adult cats, provide a few scratching posts in each of the areas most used by your pet, like those areas where he likes to play and rest.
  • Encourage your cat to scratch on the posts you provided by making use of food rewards and praises. You can also try playing with dangle toys near the post or scenting it with catnip.
  • For older cats that have already established a scratching problem, try making the damaged scratching spot unavailable for her. You can cover it with thick plastic, double-sided tape, or a blanket or throw so it’s less appealing.
  • Place a scratching post right next to the damaged area, and redirect your cat to the scratcher each time she goes for your furniture.

Most cats can be gradually taught or retrained to scratch a post and avoid damaging other things in your household like the furniture.

If these guidelines do not help in resolving the issue, try consulting your vet about a referral to a reliable animal behaviorist. Declawing your cat should not be considered. Remember, scratching is a natural behavior and declawing a cat – by amputating the first knuckle on his paws – can cause permanent psychological and physical damage.

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