How to Stop a Cat from Scratching Your Furniture

How to Stop a Cat from Scratching Your Furniture

Floppycats reader Barbara wrote in, “I recently got a retired breeder (2 yr old) Ragdoll named Laci Rose.  Laci has her claws and I entice her to the scratching post (she will jump on it, but never go to it on her own to scratch…she instead needs her paws/nails on the carpet).  Can you cover in your newsletter how to address issues such as this and others that someone m a y encounter with an older Ragdoll kitty.  Thanks” I reached out to Ragdoll Rescue guru, MeLinda Hughes for some tips – MeLinda was sweet enough to write a post about it for us!  Thank you, MeLinda! Guest Post by MeLinda Hughes of Merlin’s Hope Ragdoll Rescue

When Your Cat Scratches your Furniture

So, your cat is scratching where you don’t want him or her to scratch, and keeping his or her claws short is not enough. In case, you are not certain how to trim your cat’s claws safely, here is a you-tube link: [youtube][/youtube] The fact is that cats scratch. It is a physical necessity. It is not just a territorial situation; it allows them to remove the dead outer layer of their nails as well as to stretch and exercise their feet. Just because your cat is scratching your favorite couch, you should not take this personally or consider this a reason to declaw. There are a number of ways to encourage your cat to scratch in the appropriate areas.

Step 1: Redirect to Appropriate Scratching Spot

Bergan star chaser turbo scratcher cat toyThe first step is to redirect. You want to buy multiple cat scratchers and multiple cat trees. You can use the long corrugated cardboard scratchers; they are relatively inexpensive and they can be placed in areas where your cat is inappropriately scratching. You can buy the round turbo cat scratchers that have a ball around the outside. There are sisal scratchers, carpet scratch posts, faux fur scratching posts from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars. You want to put these everywhere. If you have a cat going after a corner of your couch or another area you don’t want ruined, put a cat tree there. Yes, it looks bad now, but it won’t have to stay there forever. Eventually, you will be able to move the tree, once your cat has determined appropriate scratching areas. So, put a cat tree at the end of the couch. If your cat is scratching your carpet, buy him a carpeted cat tree. Usually, cats like to scratch vertically, so buying a tall cat tree with carpet, sisal, or even real wood for the cat to scratch is a good investment. Make sure you choose one that the cat won’t tip over when scratching on it or he won’t want to use it. If it is too expensive for you to buy a cat tree, make one. Go on Pinterest or the Ikea do-it-yourself site. So, the first step is to redirect.

Step 2: Detract with Cat Repellent Scratching Furniture Spray

Bitter apple sprayThe second step is to detract, to make an area less pleasant for your cat. One thing you can do is put Feliway diffusers in the room where you do not want your cat to scratch. Feliway provides pheromones and helps cats remain calm. This might decrease the amount of scratching in that area. Actually, these diffusers are great for helping kitties with a range of problems. Additionally, you can use Bitter Apple spray available at We can’t smell it, but your cats hate it. It is odorless, colorless, and does not stain your furniture. Cats tend not to like lemon or orange scents. You can take leftover lemon and orange peels and tuck them under couches or around plants where you don’t want your cats. You can also use citrus scents or scented air freshners.

Soft claws nail capsStep 3: Cover the Claws

The third step is to use Soft-Paws, a product that covers your cat’s toenails almost like a false fingernail. Usually, you will have to take your cat to a veterinarian or a groomer to have them put on as they can be quite difficult to put on. This can become expensive, but they do last for three weeks to a month, which is a good time for you to use wisely to redirect your cat’s scratching. Don’t forget to spray catnip spray on the cat tree and cat toys. Be sure to reward your cat with treats and praise when he or she is scratching appropriately.

Step 4: Distract with Puzzle Toys

Another thing you can do to keep your cat from scratching where you do not want is to make sure kitty stays busy. Many of us are gone for hours each day, which means your cat becomes bored. There are a number of wonderful books on how to keep your cat entertained, and many of the ideas are quite simple. For example, you can put bird feeders near your windows to encourage birds so kitty can spend the day birdwatching. Set up a scavenger hunt for your cat. Put kitty’s toys in catnip and then put them all over the house under pillows, in the couch, on the windowsill (near the bird feeder). Hide treats for kitty to find. Puzzle toys are also good entertainment. You put toys and treats in the box and then kitty has to work to get them out.  In other words, keep your cat busy. You can buy dvds with birds, squirrels, and cats, so kitty has cat tv. Fountains also entertain cats, especially breeds attracted to water, like Maine Coons.

Step 5: Cover Furniture with Sticky Paws

Package of Sticky PawsCover the furniture where the cat is scratching with something loose like a slipcover. Cats don’t like it when their scratching surface moves, so this is a good way to protect your furniture while you are redirecting. You can put sticky tape on your furniture. It is a double-sided tape that sticks on your furniture without leaving a residue behind. Cats do not like it, because their paws stick to it, and it makes them uncomfortable. You can also put aluminum foil in areas where you don’t want the cats. They tend to not like the sound or the feel of aluminum foil. The most important thing you need to keep in mind is that declawing is not the answer. You can do a number of wonderful things for your kitty to keep from destroying your furniture but at the same time keep your cat healthy and happy.
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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. Ilse Devriese says:

    Loved the suggestions and the distraction techniques. One question though about the cover claws: don’t they keep your kitty from shedding the upper layer of the claws (one of the reasons they scratch things in the first place)? Also, I have heard through the cat vine that some cats with these covers had to be declawed due to not being able to remove the caps at all and them causing problems?

  2. Teresa Reid says:

    Both my Ragdolls have their claws and have never wanted to scratch the furniture. They highly prefer to scratch on the cardboard scratchers or sisal scratchers. We have lots of them at different locations in the house.

    Also, having vertical and horizontal scratchers is also another must. Noticed that one kitty loves to scratch horizontally and the other is a vertical scratcher (like the sides of a couch). So having both gives them options to scratch on the scratchers and not the furniture.

    After getting the scratchers for a kitty that already scratches on the furniture, you might want to spray some catnip, honeysuckle or silvervine spray on them to get the kitty interested.

    Hope this helps. Don’t give up!♥♥♥

  3. Patti Johnson says:

    Very good information! Thanks, MeLinda and Jenny! 🙂 <3

    Big hugs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3

  4. i’ve had the most success with having lots of scratching surfaces for my cats. i have scratchers/loungers all over my apartment and my three cats never go after my furniture anymore. before i had all the scratchers they would even though i tried most of these other things. i had a cat before that loved the sticky tape and would play with it, pull it off whatever it was on and then scratch the furniture. the sprays never worked for any cat i had. they absolutely love all the cardboard scratchers that they have now we have no issues with the furniture anymore. the thing is i never even thought about them until i started following jenny and floppycats. so thanks jenny and charlie and trigg for educating us all!

  5. I have an embarrassing amount of scratch alternatives for Prossimo and yet, he still claws at the couch now and then. He loves all of the scratch surfaces (vertical, floor, high and low). He does like to scratch carpet but since I only have a few carpet tiles (think Flor) on my cork flooring I don’t mind that. It’s the couch that drives me bananas.

    Call me cruel but my solution is a spray bottle and a loud “NO!”. He gets the spray bottle when he 1) goes into the kitchen 2) scratches the couch 3) is eating found fur

    He learned fairly quickly that these indulgences carried a stiff penalty but he still needs a spray bottle reminder for one offense about 1x a week or so. FYI, when he first got here with each rule break I would physically redirect him and tell him no. After about two weeks, which I felt was fair in terms of him learning boundaries, I started with the spray bottle.

    1. I am a firm believer in confessing your disgust – and if that requires a spray bottle and a loud “NO!”, then by all means – it’s better than hitting or throwing something – and much better than declawing.

      1. We’re just going through the appropriate scratching training with our two ragdoll kittens. I’ve used sticky paws before with success… I don’t have any right now, so I’ll try the tin foil.

        I’ve been using bitter apple, but it makes us all taste the bitter for a day and then it wears off and becomes ineffective. It’s great for warding them off wire chewing though.

        Right now we have the huge scratching post right beside the stairs, which is where Rupert likes to scratch. When he scratches the stairs, I move him over to the post, and I do give him a firm no before I move him, but he’s getting to be a teenager. He knows he’s not supposed to scratch there, and it’s exciting to him to do something “bad”.

        The trouble with the squirt bottle and scratch training that I’ve encountered is it partially teaches them to watch out for when you have the spray bottle, or to only do the forbidden behaviour when you’re not around to provide a consequence. This is why I’m a big fan of booby-trapping for training to respect no-scratch areas and stay-off areas like the stove or kitchen counters.

        The water sprayer is great for making them respect the space around the door when I’m coming and going (and not to rush the door when it’s open, as they’re indoor cats!)

        I think training is most effective when a positive reinforcement is available in addition to a consequence for bad behaviour. So treats, playing and lots of attention when they scratch the post, and booby-trapping the stairs and couch to be unappealing so the consequence is consistent whether or not I’m home.

        So far, we’ve found our ragdoll kitties to be incredibly good compared to what we were expecting from a normal kitten / young cat!

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