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How to Stop a Cat From Scratching Furniture

Updated on February 19, 2018
annerivendell profile image

Anne has a BSc Hons in Applied Psychology (including animal psychology) and has owned and trained several pets over a period of 30 +years.

Cats need affection too!
Cats need affection too! | Source
Clip your cat's claws only if they live indoors 24/7
Clip your cat's claws only if they live indoors 24/7 | Source

Quick Guide

1. Clap you hands
2. Shout "NO!"
3. Clap hands AND shout
4. Spray with water
5. AS WELL AS any of above, provide them with a Scratching Post

There are many myths about cats, the two most popular I’ve found to be that they are not affectionate and that they cannot be trained. Both are untrue.

Watch any queen (mother cat) with her kittens and you will see how very affectionate cats are. If you earn their trust they will repay you with lots of love and affection.

Cats are not as needy or obvious as dogs in their need for affection and they really couldn't care less whether you approve of them or not, so it’s easy to understand why many dog lovers do not like cats.

But although you may never train your cat to jump through hoops or sit, lie or roll over, you can train them away from unwanted habits.

They'll use your furniture
They'll use your furniture | Source

Why do cats like to scratch?

It may seem obvious, but cat’s need to keep their claws sharp and in good shape for self defence and for hunting. And the way they do this is by scratching.

Even a cat that spends his life indoors will have the instinct to scratch. And they will use whatever surface is handy, including your carpet or furniture.

One way of dealing with this is by keeping their claws clipped, (never, ever have your cat completely declawed. This is painful and cruel!) However, clipping their claws is not a good idea if you cat is allowed outdoors. You will leave them defenceless against dogs and other cats.

So, how do you train you cat to stop scratching the furniture?

Cats are small and delicate animals so you should never, ever punish them by slapping or hitting them. However, they do hate sudden movements and loud noises.

So, as soon as your cat begins scratching, say “No” firmly and at the same time clap your hands.

This usually causes them to leap away in fright.

Don’t continue to scold or chase them away. Ignore them for a few moments and then you can pet them gently.

Do this every time they scratch and they will soon get the message that this is unwanted behaviour.

Spray bottle

Not my favorite method, but it does work:

Fill a spray bottle with water and spray your cat every time they scratch the furniture.

This works even better if you can do it without the cat realizing that you are spraying them. Hide the bottle as soon as you spray and don't look at or pay any attention to them.

I had a cat who always saw the bottle before I pulled the spray trigger. But instead of running away, he would just close his eyes and cower away from me. It made me feel so cruel, I could never pull the trigger! That's probably why I don't like the method.

Our own well used scratching post
Our own well used scratching post | Source

Scratching Post

However, it is not enough just to let your cat know that you don’t want them to scratch the furniture.

The instinct to scratch is strong and it would be almost impossible for them to ignore it.

So provide them with a scratching post.

This can be made from a piece of wood with some carpet tacked or glued to it.

Or you can buy commercial scratching posts. These come in all shapes and sizes and many include toys and places to hide for your cat.

Our cats love their scratching post. Cats are pretty smart and quickly figure out that the only time they don’t get clapped at for scratching is when they use the scratching post.

Eliminate unwanted behaviours one at a time

This method of training can be used to discourage any unwanted behavior in your cat such as jumping on worktops or on furniture.

We have had several cats over the past 30 years and they have never been allowed onto worktops, into our bedroom, (they sit outside the open door in the morning patiently waiting for me to get up and give them breakfast) or to scratch the carpets or furniture.

However, I would advise eliminating one problem at a time.

If you are clapping your hands and saying “No” for every unwanted behavior you could just end up with a very nervous and confused cat.

So, work on whichever is the most pressing problem first and when that has been solved, move on to the next.


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    • annerivendell profile image

      annerivendell 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Aw, have fun :-) And I'm sure your cat will too!

    • Lee Tea profile image

      Lee Tea 4 years ago from Erie, PA

      My 6 year old has been wanting to make our cat a scratching post for a while now, and I love your design - think we'll do one this weekend. The sooner the better!

    • annerivendell profile image

      annerivendell 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Thanks for all the comments. @sgiguere, yes some people do recommend a spray bottle and it does work. I found 2 problems with it though: Firstly it wasn't always to hand and secondly I hate the way the cat or kitten flinches when they see the bottle. It makes me feel as though I'm being cruel. Also, we had one had who would just flinch and shake his head, then continue doing whatever he was doing! We named him Cheeky Charlie!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      My cat did this all the time. One way I stopped it was buy a big roll of double sided tape and put it on the furniture she was scratching. Worked like a charm. Unfortunately it looked really bad, but I would take it off if I had visitors.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Excellent advice. That "no" with a handclap, used consistently, will definitely solve the problem. A scratching post is also a must, if you are a humane cat owner.

    • sgiguere profile image

      Stephanie Giguere 5 years ago from Marlborough MA

      Great advice! I have a little kitten right now and we are discouraging him from being on the table by squirting him with a spray bottle. It works pretty effectively too.

    • annerivendell profile image

      annerivendell 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Thank you, Craftybegonia (what a great username!). Glad you found it useful.

    • craftybegonia profile image

      craftybegonia 5 years ago from Southwestern, United States

      Very useful!