Cat Won’t Stop Scratching Couch? – How to Put an End to It

Closeup of a cat scratched arm on a couch with a Ragdoll cat in the background - How To Stop Cat From Scratching Couch & Furniture - Cat Won't Stop Scratching Couch
Oliver Fred photo by Natalie Rodriguez

One of the most common, but also one of the most annoying, issues that cat owners come across is having their couches scratched to pieces by their cats. Some cats quit while they’re ahead, and some hold on to the scratching until they drive their owners crazy.

Here are a few tips on how you can end couch scratching in the hopes of saving your furniture and your relationship with your cat.

Why do cats scratch?

Before you can act against the annoying cat scratching, you must understand why your cat is doing this in the first place. While it might not look that way when your cat is clawing away at your new sofa, it is actually not doing it out of spite or to annoy you in any way. Here are the main reasons why your cat is scratching your couch or anything else:

  • to sharpen their claws
  • to remove the dead nail tissue and cuticles
  • to exercise and strengthen their muscles
  • to leave a scent behind and mark their territory

1. Where else than the couch can it sharpen its claws?

2. Where else can it keep its nails trimmed?

3. Where else can it exercise?

4. Where else can it mark its territory?

We’ll answer them one by one for you so you can keep your couch in one piece. But remember that you have to work on all of these four issues at the same time to get the best results. So fixing them one by one may not be enough, as they all have a part to play in the overall cause.

Seal Mitted with a Blaze Ragdoll Cat Charlie Stretching Scratching on Patio Table IMG_0673

1. Find a place for your cat to scratch that it likes better than the couch.

If you were considering offering an armchair as a sacrifice, you will be relieved to find out that it will not be necessary. However, to motivate your cat to quit scratching the couch, you have to get a scratcher that it really likes.

You can go through our guide to finding the best scratching post and explore the top alternatives, but remember that your cat will make the final choice. For example, some cats like vertical scratchers, while others prefer horizontal ones.

Charlie using TopCat Scratching Post

Scratchers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, so you will have many good contenders to go through. First, try to think of the fabrics that your cat likes to scratch. This will help you choose between cardboard, sisal, and rug scratchers.

Even if your cat is not particularly enthusiastic about one scratcher, try a second one before you give up on the idea. It might not like a product, but scratchers could still be extremely helpful in your couch-scratching dilemma.

Every household with a cat needs a scratcher, so getting one might be a surprisingly good experience!

2. Keep your cat’s nails trimmed regularly.

Trimming Cat Claws - How Do I Cut My Cat's Nails

If you still need to set up a nail-trimming ritual with your cat, it is time to start working on that immediately. One of the simplest reasons why your cat could be scratching the couch is that its nails are too long. So you have to trim them to prevent your cat from doing this.

When trimming your cat’s nails, you have to take the clippers and chop off the nail’s tip. Only cut the transparent part of the nail to avoid hurting your cat. If you cut too high and get some of the pink part you see, there will be some bleeding in the area. If this happens, take a clean cloth and apply pressure to the wound until the bleeding stops.

Remember that such accidents can be avoided using the correct type of nail clippers. There are scissor-shaped clippers and clippers with handles. You can even use human nail clippers.

It is important that you are comfortable with using the device and that you are very attentive when you do. There are also the Zen Clippers, which have a unique design that makes it impossible to cut high enough to get to a portion that bleeds. These are the safest nail clippers on the market.

Another thing you should keep in mind is that you have to make the nail-trimming ritual stress-free. For example, suppose your cat associates having its nails trimmed with a negative experience. In that case, it will not let you do it anymore, and it will have to find another place to trim its nails, such as your couch.

Be patient with your cat as you trim its nails, and stop when it is becoming stressful. This may mean that you will get only some of the nails in one go, but your cat will let you touch its claws the next time you try.

We also recommend doing this when your cat is napping. Then, before it has a chance to wake up properly, you can trim at least some of its nails, hustle-free.

Declawing Is Not an Option!

Still suggested as the foolproof method of saving your furniture from scratching, declawing should not be an option because it is inhumane. Furthermore, declawing is painful and psychologically damaging for your cat, so do not resort to such harsh methods for the sake of a couch!

3. Help your cat exercise.

While it is not a common reason for couch scratching, one of the reasons could be that your cat is not getting enough exercise. What you can do about this is set up a playing ritual for you and your cat. Providing a superior alternative to getting those endorphins it craves with you, instead of mutilating your couch.

This can be quite complicated since you are probably not home most of the day, but another thing you can do is get your cat some interactive toys. These toys can keep it entertained without you having to lift a finger.

Just plant them around the house and see what happens. Just like it is with the scratchers, there is a chance that you will not pick your cat’s favorite toy the first time. So give your cat several options to choose from.

Pets Can Play Ultimate Cat Tunnel Product Review2

4. Give your cat a better spot to mark its territory.

The likeliest reason your cat has for scratching the couch is marking its territory. And you may be wondering why the couch is such an important spot. This is one of the places in your house that is soaked in your scent.

Out of all the places in your home, you spend the most time on the couch, the bed, and maybe some chairs, which makes them the usual suspects.

Your cat wants to leave its scent next to yours, so you know it is also an authoritative figure in your home. Do you have anything against that? Aside from its choice of territory to mark? If your answer is no, then give your cat a good option for scratching and let it know that the couch is off-limits.

Please note that you must do these things together if you want them to have an effect. You want to send out a complete message – Don’t mark the couch, but do mark this scratching post instead!

Step 1 – How to tell your cat not to scratch the couch

Let your cat know that the couch is off-limits by using one of these methods. You may need to try more than one before you find the one that works best for your cat.

  • Double-Sided Tape –  Apply the double-sided tape on the part of the couch that you do not want to be scratched. When the cat tries to scratch on it, it will not like the sticky sensation, and it is likely to quit.
  • Bubble Wrap – Apply the bubble wrap on the area you do not want to be scratched. When your cat tries to do that, it will break the bubbles, making noise. Cats are not fond of sudden noises and might associate them with a negative experience.
  • Balloons – This is the upgraded version of using bubble wrap. Simply apply some small balloons in the area you do not want to be touched. When your cat scratches, it will break the balloons, and the sound will keep it away for a while.

Step 2 – How to tell your cat that it should use a scratcher instead

To solve this riddle, you must consider your cat’s motives. It wants to assert its authority in a place of high social importance to you. Your best choice is to place a scratching post or its scratcher right next to your couch.

This way, you can have your entire message delivered. If you have more than one scratcher, place the other next to your bed or where you spend a lot of time. Help your cat show you that it also has a place in that space. It is as simple as that.

The Importance of Education

As we have explained in the first part of this article, getting your cat to stop scratching your couch means giving it a better alternative to the couch for all of its scratching needs. If you have a kitten, you should teach it all these things from the very start to prevent it from developing a particular fondness for the couch. Here are a few tips:

  • Get your kitten accustomed to having its nails clipped early on and set up a routine.
  • Get your kitten used to scratching posts and place them in those socially-central places in your home.
  • Make sure your kitten is getting enough exercise.
  • Show your cat the couch is off-limits calmly.

Other Alternatives for Saving Your Couch

What we have described up to this point is the long and thorough way of dealing with this issue because it addresses the behavioral pattern behind it. However, there is still a chance that it will not work. We have prepared a list of alternatives that you can use independently or as part of your plan.

Our readers have also been dealing with couch scratching. They were kind enough to share some of the solutions that have worked for them. Take a look at what they had to say by clicking through to this Facebook post below:

  • Pheromone Sprays -some sprays come with a particular type of pheromone that tells keeps cats away. The best-known product is “Sentry Stop That!” All you have to do is apply it to the area where you don’t want your cat to scratch anymore. Bear in mind that the efficacy of these sprays differs from one cat to another.
  • Essential Oil Sprays –  these sprays are similar to the ones with pheromones, but they use essential oils that make the area unattractive to your cat. A commonly used spray is the one with bitter lemon essential oil, which will make the couch smell heavily bitter for your cat and make it want to avoid it.
  • Covering the Couch – this method worked for one of our readers. You can cover the couch in a cloth that allows your cat to scratch to protect the furniture.
  • Applying scratching posts directly on the couch –  If your cat wants to scratch the couch, then you can cover the areas it usually goes for in scratching posts. While it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing option, it could fix things quickly.

As you can see, making your cat stop scratching your couch means understanding its needs. As well as providing it with better ways of meeting them healthily. So take the time to set up your plan, and not only will you save your couch, but you will also set up a healthier environment for your cat!

Have you dealt with this issue? Do you have a secret weapon for couch-scratching? Then, tell us all about it in the comments section below!

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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  1. Emily has never been a furniture scratcher UNTIL I recently got some new dining room chairs and she is addicted to laying on them and scratching them. The fabric must be infused with catnip! We’re in a war over them and I’m trying a lot of the methods you’ve listed, but the article included some new ones I can try, too. She literally looks over at me while digging her claws in a chair like “hey, watch this!” Wish I could post pictures in this comment- have some great ones of her “mono railing” on the backs of the chairs. So weird how this particular piece of furniture is so attractive to her. Thanks for the hints! Now, I”m off to trim her nails as suggested.

    Ragdoll Emily on Microfiber Chairs

    1. I can add the photos to your comment – just send me the photos via email and I will add them. I am sorry to hear about that though! Hope some of the suggestions here nip it in the bud. I have always thought a VERY SMART interior designer would have a cool website about cat friendly fabrics, etc. – and would make a lot because many people would pay for choosing fabrics cats aren’t attracted to!

      1. I love the idea of cat-friendly fabric suggestions from a designer. I can testify that this microfiber fabric is not good if you own cats! Mine love it! How funny that the cat scratcher tower is in the background of one of the pictures.

        1. =) Yes, I love textured fabrics…but so do kitties! And yes, cat-friendly suggestions from a designer would be awesome. Years ago I reached out to 10 interior designers to see if they would do an interview with me for floppycats – not a single one replied!

  2. SUPER PAWESOME & FABULOUS POST, Jenny honey! SUCH A GREAT TOPIC! TYSVM for all the info!! Great guidance! 🙂 <3

    Luckily, Miss PSB is not a destructive scratcher with our furniture. YAY!! (Wish I could save that about all the kitteh loves I have had in my life!) Basically, we have a TON of scratching options throughout our tiny apartment with scratch pads, scratching posts, infinity scratcher, Necoichi scratcher, Petstages scratcher, etc… and I think that keeps her satisfied! 🙂 <3

    My hubby is always commenting that the amount of cat furniture/scratchers that we have in our tiny place is greater than our actual furniture items! LOL 🙂 <3

    Big hugs & lots of love & purrs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3 <3 <3

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