Cat Scratching – Everything You Need to Know About Your Feline Companion

cat scratching the scratch post

Whether it is outdoors or indoors, at some point in time, you are going to see your cat scratching away to glory. Anything could be the victim of cat scratchings, such as trees, furniture, doors, or even walls. Although it is amusing to watch the antics of your cat, seeing your furniture and sofas getting mangled is not so entertaining. Before you decide to discipline your cat, here are some things you might want to know regarding why your cat scratches.

Why Do Cats Scratch?

Cats scratching furniture is not an uncommon sight, and they do it for several reasons, which are instinct-based. If you are wondering, do all cats scratch furniture, you are not the only one. Cats cannot work out like humans, so they exercise by scratching. You may often see cats scratching the sofa or any other household assets. While cat scratches ruin household items, it offers benefits to cats. Below are the reasons why your cat scratches objects.


Cat scratching serves as a kind of exercise for cats. When a cat scratches, the tendons and muscles in its body are stretched from neck to toe. The spine and forelimbs are exercised to keep the cat in top form, which aids during hunting.


Scratching produces both olfactory and visual marks. Cats scratch to communicate and mark territories. The glands in between the pads of a cat’s paw emit a distinct odor pertaining to the particular cat. This unique scent serves as a boundary mark for other cats. Aside from the scent, a cat’s claws leave marks on objects that are being scratched. The marks act as a visual indication to other cats that the cat in the subject had been in that certain area. Scratching is a basic instinct of felines, and therefore, they will still scratch even though they own the space.

Grooming and Health

A cat will scratch to shed its outer claw husk every once in a while to maintain healthy claws. The scratching motion gets rid of the claw’s outer sheaths as well as sharpens its claws, which serve as a form of grooming. Cat scratching, also known as stropping, provides a cat with sharper and stronger claws.

Instinctive Habit

A cat will keep on scratching because it finds pleasure in its innate behavior. Scratching also keeps a cat preoccupied and minimizes the chance of behavioral issues.

Seeking Attention

Everybody knows that cats are attention seekers. They want everything and everyone to revolve around them. So if a cat is subject to being scolded and admonished for scratching, it is going to link scratching with attention because it is getting your attention when you reprimand it. Scratching can also indicate the cat’s invitation to play either with other cats or humans.

Other Reasons

Some cats may develop a habit of scratching furniture if it does not have any scratching posts to scratch. At the same time, some may go further and find pleasure in scratching more expensive items like the couch or leather furniture. A cat may also develop a sense of comfort in scratching furniture that is located in specific places where they can mark their territory and leave visual signals.

Disastrous Scratching

Do all cats scratch furniture? The answer is yes. Cats live to scratch. They scratch while stretching and playing. A cat will scratch to send visual warnings to other cats and mark their boundaries. Cats scratch to sharpen their claws and shed the outer husk layer. Therefore a cat may indeliberately spoil and damage furniture, carpets, and wallpapers during their scratching spree.

It is not uncommon to hear people complaining about the destructive behavioral tendency of cats. Cats scratching leather furniture might come across as spiteful creatures who are out to destroy your home.

The scratch marks of outdoor cats can be seen in objects such as trees, fences, gates, etc. They leave these marks on visible areas where other cats can see and get the message. In contrast, indoor cats dig their claws on similar objects such as the furniture, couches and sofas, carpets, wallpapers, and even doors, ruining them in the process.

What You Should Do 

There are several ways to manage your cat’s behavioral scratching, such as providing your cat with scratching posts and pads, regular nail trimming, making use of cat deterrents like double-sided sticky tapes, and using plastic caps to cover the claws.

While managing cat scratching, it would be wise not to prevent cats from scratching altogether since it is an inborn trait. Instead, teach your cat what to scratch and where to scratch. An effective way to manage cat scratching is to give it an alternative scratching surface such as a scratching pad or post. You can make use of the following points to get the most effective results.

Scratching Posts and Pads

The first method you can use to prevent damage to household objects from scratching is by giving your cat an alternative scratching post.

Scratching posts are wooden posts made with coarse material which are provided to cats to scratch. It serves as an alternative to furniture and other household items.

Put a scratching post near the object your cat scratches often. There is a variety of scratching posts and pads with different shapes and styles made from different materials. It is advisable to give your cat multiple scratching posts to find its preference. The posts are mostly made of wood, carpeting, upholstery, sisal, and cardboard. Keep in mind that cats prefer differing angles to scratch, which can be either horizontal, slanted, or vertical. To be on the bright side, offer your cat one of each type: a vertical scratching post, a horizontal scratching pad, and slanted scratcher.

Experiment with different posts until you find which one your cat likes. Note that every cat prefers a durable and robust post which will not tilt or fall when it is scratched.

Once your cat finds its preferred scratching post, you can place multiple posts of the same type in different locations. You can coax your cat to scratch the posts by using catnip to scent the posts and hanging its favorite toys on them.

Every cat has its unique scratching preference and pattern. While some cats tend to scratch furniture and posts, some cats prefer scratching the carpet. Cats scratching carpet may require a different type of scratching post. Most posts and pads are made of carpet material. Add a horizontal pad to give them the feeling of scratching the carpet and a vertical post to manage cats scratching wallpaper.

Filling your place with several scratchers in multiple locations will occupy and satisfy and refrain cats from scratching doors.

Double-Sided Tapes and Furniture Strips

Another effective method you can implement to prevent cats from scratching furniture and cats scratching couch is by sticking double-sided tape on the furniture. A cat scratching on a sticky surface is unheard of. Cats are not the biggest fans of sticky surfaces, and they will even sacrifice their scratching to avoid those sticky areas.

Stick the double-sided tape on the furniture or the carpet where your cat frequently scratches. Sticky tapes work best on vertical surfaces, and it can prevent cats from scratching wallpaper and cats scratching carpet. It will deter your cat from scratching that area and gradually train it to avoid the area altogether. Double-sided tapes can also be used to stop cat scratching carpet and prevent cats from scratching doors.

In addition to double-sided tapes, you can also make use of furniture strips as they can stick on various surfaces from fabric linens to countertops that are made of wood. One good example of double-sided tape is ‘Sticky Paws.’ It is most effective in deterring cats from scratching the sofa.

Deterrent Sprays

There are a variety of sprays in the market that deter cat scratching. It is crucial to find and buy the best spray to stop cats from scratching furniture. Certain cat deterrent sprays such as Feliway can keep your cat from scratching on furniture and other objects. The pheromones present in the spray can trick the cat into thinking that the sprayed area has been marked by other cats, thus preventing them from scratching that particular spot.

But you can also create a DIY cat anti scratch furniture spray to prevent your cat from approaching the usual scratching spot. All you need to do is mix equal portions of apple cider vinegar and water in a sprayer and spray to stop cats from scratching furniture.

You can also add lime juice, eucalyptus oil, and essential orange oil in a liter of water and mix them in a spray bottle and spray it on the infected area as cats detest the scent of citrus fruits.

Reward Your Cat’s Good Behaviour

When it comes to dealing with cat scratching, rewards are always an effective way to prompt desirable results. Whenever your cat scratches its scratching post, reward it with a nice treat to boost positive behavior. You can lure your cat to its scratcher with catnip and cat toys. Hang the toys and let it dangle to grab your cat’s attention to the post or apply catnip on the post directly.

If your cat is found scratching on unwanted places, reprimand gently rather than shouting and lead the cat to its scratching post with some word of praise and cat treats. Continue with this routine until your cat gets accustomed to scratching its post.

Do not be harsh on your pet. Generally, cats are not fans of punishment since they do not know why they are punished. It will only teach them to fear you or make them aggressive. If you punish your cat when he scratches on furniture, it will link your presence with punishment and will resort to scratching when you are not around.

Plastic Caps

Plastic caps prevent damage to objects that are caused by cat scratching. Equipping your cat’s claw with plastic caps will ensure that no harm is done to objects even if your cat scratches on something. These are temporary caps that are fitted into the claws with the help of an adhesive. They usually last up to four to six weeks. Make sure to change the caps every six to twelve weeks.

This method is an effective one; however, there is a drawback. Most cats do not like their claws being handled, so you should use this method only on cats that allow you to handle their paws. Never try to force your cat into something it does not like, as it will produce an adverse effect.

Keep a Check on Your Cats Health

Examine the anxiety level of your cat. An emotionally stressed cat may be more prone to scratching than a healthy cat. To distract your cat from its destructive cat scratching habit, you should pay close attention to it by pampering them and playing with them more frequently.

You can also startle your cat by a sudden clap or shout if you find a cat scratching at things that can be ruined. However, this method should be your last resort as your cat may associate you with the shock it received and learn to fear your presence.

What You Should Not Do 

Do Not Force

Do not force anything against the will of your cat. If your cat does not scratch the post initially, give it some time to adjust to it. Never try to force your cat to claw the post as it could scare your cat and make her avoid the post altogether.

Do Not Discard

Do not throw away the old scratchers when it gets worn. Cats love familiarity, and they will have no issues scratching on a mangled post as the shredded surface will help them to dig their claws into the post.

Declawing and its Danger

You may use the above methods to manage your cat’s scratching behavior, but whatever procedure you opt for, never consider declawing your cat. Declawing will negatively impact your cat, while the pain from the surgery will last for several days. Remember that your pet’s health and safety counts more than material things.

What exactly is declawing? Declawing does not just mean removing the cat’s claws from its paws. It involves amputating the last cartilage, which includes the nailbed as well as the claw in front of each toe. A cat experiences a great deal of pain during the process that lasts for days after the surgery. This procedure can lead to the threat of over bleeding, anesthesia, and postsurgical complications such as infection and long-lasting pain. It can also alter your cat’s walk and balance and change the way it interacts with the surrounding. Declawing poses a danger to cats; therefore, many countries have banned and illegalized declawing surgeries.

Declawing does not improve your cat’s behavioral problems, and it should never be used as an alternative to manually training them to use their claws. It is best avoided to ensure a happy and healthy cat. It should only be implemented under grave circumstances where all other alternatives have failed to produce the desired effect.

Tips to Reduce the Damage Caused by Cat Claws

While you are on the process of finding the right method to stop cat scratching carpet and furniture, you might want to consider ways to reduce the damage caused by the sharp claws.


Trim the claws of your cat after the interval of two to three weeks. The best time to pick up this habit is from the time your cat is still a kitten. That way, there will be no complications for either you or your pet. However, if you have a grown cat, you can still instill this habit in your cat by steadily and consistently rewarding it with treats if it lets you trim its nails. You can also wait until your cat goes to sleep and then trim the sharp tips with sharp trimmers.

Plastic Caps

Plastic caps also act as an effective method to minimize damage caused by scratching. ‘Soft Claws’ is a product that your cat will not mind having on their claws. If you are unsure if you can manage to attach the caps to your cat’s claws, you can get help from vet doctors or large supply stores in installing and training. These plastic caps cover the sharp tips of the claws and prevent shredded damage, especially on carpets.

Cats and Doors

A scratching sound on the door can alert anyone inside the room. We have already seen the reasons for cats scratching couch and furniture, so now why the door? It can look and sound confusing when a cat scratches the door. Could it be trying to use it as a scratcher? What is it trying to prove?

The answer is simple. Your pet cat is seeking attention from you. As mentioned earlier, cats are notorious attention seekers. They need your attention every time of the day, be it dawn or dusk, day or night. A cat scratching the door may also indicate that the cat is hungry or needs a playmate. These delicate creatures only want food, enough playtime, and a human to love and pamper them. So what should you do to stop them from this awful habit of scratching doors?

Here are some tips you can use, which mostly consist of discouragement techniques.

Be Indifferent to the Scratching

The ulterior motive of your cat scratching the door is to catch your attention so you will have to ignore your cat for once. Forget about the positive as well as the negative methods while dealing with your cat scratching the door. If you try to stop your cat from scratching by giving it treats, it is going to scratch your door more often in the hopes of getting more treats. Even if you admonish and reprimand your cat, it is still going to receive some sort of attention from you, and this will lead your cat into believing that scratching is going to get him what he wants.

Play With Your Cat and Feed it Before Bed

If plan A fails to work, there is always room for a simple but effective plan B. Playing with your cat before feeding will exhaust the thriving cat and make it hungrier. This will make your cat want to rest and take a nap after each ‘play and feed’ session. Follow this routine every night before going to bed. Your cat will not be active enough to claw on your door as it will want to go to sleep after its hectic session.

Scent the Door with Smells Your Cat Does Not Like

You can prevent and stop your cat from scratching your door by making your doors less appealing to your cat with cat anti scratch furniture spray. PetSafe’s Ssscat Cat Deterrent spray will help you in keeping your cat from scratching doors. The spray looks similar to air freshener sprays, but it is much more effective as it is designed for feline use. This product possesses no threat to your cat and acts as an effective cat deterrent.

With coverage up to three feet, the product is a movement-activated deterrent that emits an unscented gush of air to deter your cat if it detects any approaching movement from your cat. Take the spray and place it by the door that can do better without your cat and let the product work its magic.

The sudden harmless gust of air will discourage your pet every time it walks up to the door to scratch, and gradually, it will make your cat lose its complete interest in scratching on your door. This magical product is an excellent example of value for money as it is effective yet affordable and can be refilled.

Top Products for Cat Scratching Management

Since scratching is a basic instinct of cats, you cannot deprive your cat of its cat scratching habit. However, there are a variety of products that can be used to deter and minimize damage caused by the claws. For instance, couch scratching posts provide your cat with a surface to scratch on instead of the couch. In contrast, a portable scratching post will fulfill your cat’s desire to scratch elsewhere. There are also furniture protection guards which you can use to cover and protect your furniture from damage. Cat deterrent sprays and plastic caps are also proven to be effective.

Here are some of the best products you can use to manage your cat’s behavioral scratching tendencies.

  • SmartCat Pioneer Pet Ultimate Scratching Post
  • Sofa-Scratcher Cat Scratching Post & Couch Corner
  • Soft Claws Nail Caps for Cats
  • Furniture Defender Cat Scratching Guards
  • Claw Withdraw Cat Scratch Spray

You cannot make your cat abandon scratching as it comes to them naturally. But this should not compromise your bond with your pet. Know and understand your pet and its needs and preferences to maintain a good relationship with your cat.