So a few months ago, Lucy, my cat, started this fun new thing where she scratches the headboard of our bed at dawn every single morning. It was annoying. It would wake me up. It was ruining my headboard. And, it needed to stop. So, I’m sharing my tips and tricks on How to Stop a Cat from Scratching the Furniture as well as my link on How to Make a Homemade Cat Repellent Furniture Spray. When I rescued Lucy and brought her home to live with us, we already had a cat. Her name was Poops (Side note: I did NOT name her) and she was declawed by her previous owners. So, before Lucy, I never had to worry about scratched furniture. Well, that quickly changed! Lucy frayed the back of one of my vintage chairs by using it as her own personal scratching post. I didn’t even realize she was doing it until it was too late. I made a pretty pink scratching post for her and that seemed to help for a bit, but then we moved and that scratching post is currently lost in the boxes (upon boxes, upon boxes) stored in my basement.
She then began using the sides of all of our cardboard moving boxes as scratching posts and ripped them all to shreds.
This was fine by me because it wasn’t hurting anything of monetary value, but then when Lucy started peeing on our bed (here’s the link to How to Stop Your Cat From Peeing on the Bed in case you have THAT issue as well), I took steps to stop the bed peeing and moving the furniture into place and putting away all of those boxes was one of the steps. So because she didn’t have anything to scratch for awhile, I think she started scratching at our headboard! Cat scratching is both natural and necessary. Cats NEED something to scratch as it helps them keep their nails clean and healthy and it provides a stress outlet for the cat. Cats are just like people – we tend to bite fingernails when stressed and cats like to scratch when they are stressed. And please, please, please do NOT declaw your cat. Not only is it illegal in many parts of the US and Canada, but it is also just cruel. Also, declawed cats become biters. As Poops (our declawed cat who is no longer with us) got older, she would lunge and bite our hands more and more.
If you happen to catch your cat in the scratching act, do NOT yell at the cat. Yelling or punishing the cat will only make the situation worse, so instead just make a sharp noise like “SSSSSssssss” which will get the cat’s attention and then distract to make the cat stop.
Step One: Trim Your Cats Nails
Ok, so how to get your cat to stop scratching the furniture? The first thing you can do is trim your cat’s nails every two weeks. Yeah, this isn’t really an option for me. It’s difficult to do (it takes two people – one to hold Lucy wrapped up in a towel and a second person to cut) and it’s hard to find the time to do it. To be honest, I hate trimming my human babies’ nails, and their nails are a higher priority than my cat’s nails, so it really just isn’t gong to happen. So, if you’re like me, or your cat is extra squirmy like Lucy and makes trimming nearly impossible, you’ll need to follow the other ideas I have below.
Step Two: Scratching Alternative
Encourage your cat to NOT to use your furniture by giving the cat an alternative to scratch such as a scratching post or even several scratching posts. You’ll need to figure out the type of post your cat will prefer – horizontal (for carpet/rug scratchers) or vertical (for those sofa, chair, bed headboard, furniture scratchers) and what type of material they like (cardboard, carpet, sisal, etc.) I knew Lucy would like a vertical post based on her choices of chairs, headboards, and cardboard boxes. I had tried some cheap cardboard scratchers from the dollar store that mount to the wall and she didn’t seem interested (despite her previous interest in the cardboard boxes, go figure!), so I went ahead and just got her a carpet cat scratching post with a sisal scratching area on it and put it by the window so she could sit on the top, lay in the sun, and watch the world all day.
I got my scratching post from Home Goods for about $40 but if you don’t have the time to run around town looking for an affordable scratching post, I’ve linked to a couple similar, affordable scratching posts available on Amazon here:
If you don’t want a big ugly cat tree, you can also get a couple of these smaller cat scratchers and hang them on the walls near the scratched furniture. I don’t have one, but they look nice and streamlined and the reviews are pretty good. I’m keeping them on my radar in case I need to purchase one in the future.
Sometimes it is recommended to put the new scratching post right by the cat’s preferred scratched furniture (the sofa, a chair, the bed headboard) in order to put that alternative right there in front of them to make it obvious and then you can slowly move it a few inches a day to your more desired location. I didn’t do this – I just set up the new scratching post and used my Homemade Cat Repellant Furniture Spray on the headboard and this seemed to work. Maybe I got lucky.
Step Three: Negative Reinforcement
If your cat is still scratching the furniture, you may need to use some negative reinforcement such as tin foil or Sticky Paws which is a double-sided tape that is allegedly safe to use on the furniture (I haven’t used it, so I can’t say if it is or not) which cats don’t like the feel of on their paws.
I didn’t need to use any catnip spray to get Lucy to use the scratching post, but if your cat isn’t getting excited by the new cat scratching post, try spraying some catnip spray on the scratching post to lure your cat into using it. And then once they do, give the cat affection and treats (positive reinforcement) whenever you see the kitty using the post.
I made my own Homemade Cat Repellant Furniture Spray to spray on the headboard to discourage Lucy from scratching it. It’s a lemon rosemary scent and cats HATE both the smell of citrus and rosemary. However, it uses essential oils which can be toxic to cats who don’t have the liver enzymes necessary to break down the essential oils, so if you make and use my Homemade Cat Repellant Furniture Spray, NEVER spray it directly on your cat and don’t even spray it if your cat is in the same room. If you know your cat licks that spot, don’t use the spray. Also, make sure the essentials oils bottles are properly stored – you know how curious cats can be!
And for now, the scratching has stopped! I’ll be keeping a bottle of my DIY Homemade Cat Repellant Furniture Spray on hand in case she starts again in the future, but for now, we’re good!
Have you had trouble with your cat scratching your furniture? What did you do to get the cat to stop? Let me know in a comment!
1. Trim Your Cats Nails
I know it's hard! If you can't do it, you need to do the following:
2. Provide a Scratching Alternative
Try cat tree or hang a smaller cat scratcher on a wall
3. Use Negative Reinforcement
Don't yell at your cat, it will only stress the cat and could make the situation worse. Instead, try negative reinforcement including Sticky Paws or my Homemade Cat Repellant Furniture Spray (never spray on or near the cat).
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