Why does my cat scratch? (And what you can do about it)

Author picture Jessica  - updated: 28/08/2023

Why do cats scratch furniture?

Scratching is a natural behaviour for cats. They do it instinctively to care for their claws, to mark their territory and to relieve stress.

Domestic cats scratch furniture, walls, and carpets because most households contain these textured surfaces. And textured surfaces feel great underneath your cat's claws!

However, cats don't scratch up your home to challenge you or be naughty for no reason. As such, you should never punish your cat for scratching. They simply wouldn’t understand and the behaviour would continue.

Scratching is a fact of life and a super common behaviour for cat owners to deal with. But what can you do to manage your cat's scratching habit when it gets out of hand? Here are some tips to redirect your cat and treat the source of the behaviour.

Scratching cat

1) Make your furniture unattractive to a cat

Prevent your cat from scratching furniture by cleaning up existing scratch marks. Cats return to areas that they have previously scratched, so doing this will stop the cycle.

Stop your cat from returning to favourite scratch spots by removing their scene using anti-odour cleaner. This will make the spot completely free of cat smell and remove some of the temptation. Furthermore, you can make rough surfaces less attractive to cats by sealing them with double-sided tape or aluminium foil.

2) Offer tempting scratching alternatives

Offer your cat plenty of places to scratch away to their heart’s content. It’s best to put up at least one scratching post per cat in your household. Applying catnip or valerian can make the scratching post or board especially attractive.

Cat on scratching post

3) Make your own DIY cat-scratching equipment

You can make a scratching post yourself to save money and get crafty at the same time. You can find the materials needed at your local hardware store. Here's how to make a few different styles of scratch equipment:

How to make a traditional scratching post

This is a classic piece of equipment for any get to get their claws into. All you need is a board, a cedar post, and some sisal rope.

  1. Secure the post to the board using superglue, nails or pins. Make sure there are no sharp ends sticking out of the post.
  2. Wrap the cord firmly around the post starting from the bottom and working your way up.
  3. Tuck both loose ends underneath the rope that is already wound around the post.

Be sure to securely attach your cat's scratching post so it doesn't move when your cat scratches on it.

How to make a scratching board

You can also make a carpeted scratching board for your cat to release some energy onto. All you need is a square of carpet, a chip wood board, glue and hooks.

  1. Simply attach some carpet to a board using glue and hang it on a wall.
  2. Use carpet with loops and texture so your cat's claws can grip onto it.
  3. Finally, attach wall hooks or screws to secure the board.
  4. Hang the board on a wall or door. Make sure to put it at the right height so your cat can stretch as they're scratching.

Also, check for any nails or tacks that may be protruding from the scratch board or scratch post. Safety always needs to come first!

Cat and woman

4) Scratching because of stress and anxiety

It's important to consider that your cat might feel stress or anxiety, leading to scratching behaviours. As such, be sure to ask yourself why your cat might be scratching. Has your cat experienced any recent changes, such as a house move, new housemates or pets?

Provide your cat with a quiet space to hide out, especially if they have experienced any changes in their little world. For example, set aside a spare room or laundry with plenty of cat toys and spaces to hide. Needless to say, be sure to add items to scratch and release some energy.

5) Scratching because of boredom

A cat might scratch excessively because they are bored or lonely during the day. Many people think that cats just sleep all day and don't need entertainment or company. On the contrary, cats still need stimulation and playtime every day. Without this, a cat can develop problem behaviours, such as excess scratching.

If you work long hours or are going away on holiday, arrange for a cat sitter to drop by. The cat sitter can play with and cuddle your cat. Your cat will be much happier for this and will be less likely to scratch your furniture. Read more about keeping your cat happy.

Cat and woman

Are you looking for a caring cat sitter for your furry friend? Pawshake has plenty of cat sitters ready to drop by. Simply visit the Pawshake website below to see who is nearby!

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