Hello, Cat Enthusiasts!
In this article, we’re going to talk about common reasons why cats engage in destructive scratching and discuss how to stop a cat from scratching the furniture.
Find and Fix the Causes of Unwanted Scratching
Typically, cats scratch the furniture because something is wrong with their environment. For example, they don’t have acceptable areas for scratching, lack attention or experience stress. The best way to stop this behaviour therefore is to find and fix its root cause.
Provide Suitable Alternatives
Unwanted scratching often has to do with lack of appropriate and suitable scratching options in the house. That is why it’s important to provide convenient and attractive scratching posts and encourage the cat to use them. A cat might scratch the furniture because:
- the cat doesn’t have a scratching post
- the cat has a scratching post but doesn’t know how to use it
- available scratching posts don’t match the cat’s preferences
- the cat has limited scratching options
First of all, observe you cat’s behaviour to determine its scratching style: identify whether your cat likes horizontal or vertical scratching and pay attention to the textures it likes to scratch.
Then provide scratching options according to your cat’s preferences.
Place scratching posts next to the areas where your cat currently scratches and reward it every time it scratches the post instead of the furniture.
If you have more than one cat, make sure each of them can easily access a scratching post.
Make Sure Your Cat Is Healthy and Receives Enough Attention
Another possible reason why cats scratch inappropriate objects is they try to gain attention from their owners.
In this case, the best strategy is providing your cat with structured attention and more entertainment.
Daily routine of interactive play, regular exercise and one-on-one time with your cat help satisfy its need for social interaction while providing opportunities for exploration, such as food puzzles and various toys, will keep your cat busy when you’re not around.
It’s also important to stop encouraging attention-seeking behaviour. It sounds difficult, but ignore your cat when it scratches inappropriately or carry it to its scratching post to interrupt this behaviour.
Scratching as part of indoor marking behaviour may be related to anxiety which can be caused by:
- changes in environment or routine (e.g. introduction of a new cat or family member, building works or replacements in the house)
- social difficulties between cats in multicat households (e.g. conflict for resources)
- senility or illness
Reducing your cat’s stress and anxiety can help resolve the inappropriate scratching problem. To decrease the level of anxiety introduce new animals or people carefully, try to make changes as gradual as possible for your cat, provide additional resources and spend more time with your cat.
If scratching is accompanied by other symptoms, such as loss of appetite, excessive hiding, litter box avoidance, etc. or if you notice sudden changes in your cat’s behaviour, consult with your veterinarian to rule out or treat underlying medical conditions.