Skip to main content

Training your cat not to scratch furniture

Back to overview

You are here

Since their claws never stop growing, felines that live in nature learn to sharpen their claws on trees, rocks and other surfaces. These same instincts are also found in house cats – but since they are not surrounded by trees and rocks, they turn to the furniture and curtains. Here are a few tips to correct this bad habit.

Protecting furniture from cats

As long as claws remain at a comfortable length, the need to sharpen them lessens. Trimming your cat’s nails every 10 to 14 days is a simple way to mitigate the problem while ensuring your pet’s well-being.

You can temporarily protect furniture by sticking double-sided tape, sand paper or aluminum paper on it.  These materials make surfaces unpleasant to scratch – so they are less attractive to your cat. You can also spray furniture with essential oils with scents you like, but that tend to repel cats (such as citrus, mint or rosemary).

Finally, using a feline pheromone diffuser can lessen your furry friend’s desire to scratch the furniture.  Odourless to humans, the smell soothes and calms your cat’s territorial instincts. Available as a spray or a plug-in device.  

Observe your cat’s habits

Many cats have a favourite time and place to sharpen their claws — for example, attacking the side of the couch after a nap. By paying attention to your pet’s habits, you will determine the best spot for the scratching post or cat tree and the right time to train your feline friend to use it.    

Training your cat to use a scratching post

It is impossible to completely eliminate the need to sharpen claws. Rather, you must teach your cat when and where to do it. In addition to the traditional scratching posts such as cat trees, there are also affordable models in corrugated cardboard and vertical products that can be leaned against a wall.  To attract your pets, some are already treated with catnip.

Depending on your pet’s habits, position the scratcher in a strategic place, like near the furniture your cat often uses to sharpen its claws. If you have more than one cat or if it likes to sharpen its claws in several places, you can place several scratching posts in different spots.

The next time your cat goes for the furniture, pick it up and move it to the scratcher. Rub the scratching post with catnip to make it more tempting. Encourage your furry friend to sharpen its claws by giving praise and affection, then reward it with a treat if it cooperates. Repeat this process so your pet will associate the need to sharpen its claws with the scratching post there for that purpose.

Stay calm to avoid scaring your cat

Always avoid yelling when your cat sharpens its claws in the wrong spot. You can use a firm tone or clap your hands to stop your pet in the act, but being aggressive is likely to scare it without changing its habits. Moreover, do not grab your cat’s paws to physically force it to use the scratching post: your pet could find the experience terrifying and view the object as a threat.

If you have any problems, don’t hesitate to talk to your veterinarian to get additional tips and support.



Tips & Tricks