How to Stop Cats from Scratching Furniture

Scratching posts, trimming your cat’s nails, cat deterrent sprays, and double-sided tape are some of the best ways to stop cats from scratching furniture.

Apr 10, 2024By Ryan Brennan
how to stop cats from scratching furniture

I have two cats – an older one and a younger one – and they don’t make my life easy. My older cat likes to scratch the carpet, while my younger cat scratches the walls and furniture. Either way, I don’t like it.

So, I decided to do something about it – and you should too!

Since I know I’m not the only cat owner struggling with this problem, I’m going to share with you the six things that helped my cats grow out of their furniture-scratching phase – hopefully, they work for you, too!

1. Trim Your Cat’s Claws – But Don’t Declaw Them!

white black cat scratch furniture
Black and White Cat Scratching Couch

If cats don’t have claws, they can’t scratch the furniture – it sounds so simple, right? The problem with that theory is it doesn’t solve the root of the problem – and actually does more harm than good to the cat.

According to PETA, declawing is an inhumane, violent, traumatic, and invasive experience for any cat – and it often results in paw pain, back pain, infection, tissue necrosis (tissue death), lameness, and more.

A good alternative to declawing your cat is trimming its claws regularly. This will not necessarily stop your cat from scratching furniture, but it will reduce the damage it causes without introducing health problems.

If possible, I recommend trimming your cat’s claws every two weeks. What’s most important is that you trim their nails properly – don’t worry, your veterinarian can teach you how during your next appointment.

2. Add Scratching Posts Throughout the Home

orange cat scratching post
Orange Cat Scratching Post

There are various reasons why your cat scratches furniture – including sharpening its claws, shedding its claw sheaths, marking its territory, and stretching. It’s also therapeutic, in a way, and makes it feel good.

That said, scratching isn’t the problem – it’s what they’re scratching that we need to control. That’s why I recommend adding a few scratching posts – at least two, if possible – in their favorite rooms in the house.

Scratching posts give your cat something to scratch without ruining the furniture, carpet, and walls. It might take some time for your cat to understand the difference, but it’s worth it if you want to fix the issue.

If your cat isn’t using the post, try leading by example – and yes, that means scratching the post with your finger. Your cat might look at you weird, but they’ll eventually join in. Of course, catnip can also help.

3. Use a Cat Deterrent Spray for Furniture

black cat scratching couch
Black Cat Scratching and Destroying Couch

Much like there are certain scents your cat enjoys, there are also certain scents it can’t stand. Citrus, thyme, rosemary, eucalyptus, lavender, bananas, vinegar, and mint are among those hated scents.

Believe it or not, spraying your furniture and/or carpet with these scents will teach your cat to scratch somewhere else. In fact, it’ll teach your cat to avoid the area altogether – so keep that in mind.

While you can find pre-made cat deterrent sprays at your local pet store (or even a department store), you can also create your own by mixing water, white vinegar, lemon juice, and rosemary in a spray bottle.

I recommend testing it on a small corner of the furniture to ensure it won’t damage the fabric. You won’t need a lot – especially since your cat has a heightened sense of smell – but enough to keep them away.

4. Cover Your Furniture with Fabric or Tape

white cat laying chair
White Cat Laying on Chair

If the cat deterrent spray isn’t working (or if you want to increase its effectiveness), cover your furniture with a thick piece of fabric. When your cat goes to scratch the furniture, they’ll scratch the cover instead.

Another effective idea is to cover the scratched areas with double-sided tape. Cats aren’t big fans of sticky surfaces and will immediately avoid scratching surfaces if their paws continuously stick to them.

The idea here is to remove the pleasurable aspect that comes with scratching furniture. If they don’t like the sound, texture, or overall feel of scratching the surface, they won’t have any reason to keep doing it.

The best way to stop cats from scratching furniture is to spray the areas they scratch the most, and then cover that area with fabric or double-sided tape – I use Sticky Paws, but there are other quality brands.

5. Positive Reinforcement Always Wins

cat owner hugging cat
Cat Owner Hugging Her Cat

Positive reinforcement is the act of rewarding positive behavior to encourage it to happen again. Most cat and dog owners already do this when trying to teach their pets a new trick, usually by giving them a treat.

In this case, you’re rewarding your cat for scratching the designated areas in the house – as opposed to the furniture, walls, and carpet. There are several ways to do this, but giving them a treat is the best way.

You can also encourage this behavior by dangling their favorite toy over the scratching post and using that area as a play area. If your cat loves lasers, which most cats do, try shining the laser on the post.

It might take a few weeks for your cat to catch on, but they’ll eventually get the message. The more you reward them, the more they’ll want to do the things that result in a reward – and that’s what we’re after.

6. Redirect Poor Behavior – But Don’t Punish Them!

gray cat hug owner
Cat Owner Cuddling with Her Grey Cat

While we want to reinforce positive behavior, we also want to redirect poor behavior. That means stopping your cat in its tracks when it starts scratching furniture while encouraging them to use the scratching post.

With that said, you don’t want to punish your cat. After all, they don’t know any better and are under the impression that scratching the furniture is okay. Punishing them will likely make the problem worse.

Anytime I hear my cat scratching the furniture, I gently clap my hands and say ‘no’ or ‘hey’ to get their attention – I don’t scream it, but I use a demanding, firm voice to make sure they know I’m serious.

My cats usually stop right away, but I like to walk over to them, pick them up, and transport them to the nearest scratching post. Over time, they learned to use the scratching post – not the expensive furniture.

Is your cat scratching furniture still? If the above tips aren’t working in your favor, I recommend speaking to your veterinarian – there could be something deeper at play here, and they can get to the bottom of it!

Ryan Brennan
By Ryan Brennan

Ryan is a content writer with 10+ years of experience in the field. He is the proud owner of a white domestic short-haired cat with black spots named Jaxx - he looks like a cow, but acts and sounds like a cat. They enjoy doing laps around the house with a laser pointer and snuggling when it’s time for bed. Ryan hopes to give Jaxx a puppy friend someday.