The evidence is everywhere — the sofa, curtains, and even your walls: Your favorite feline is a scratcher! For all the meows, purrs, and cuddles, there's still a red flag raised when it comes to allowing your cat to cruise freely about the house. You may find yourself asking, "How do I keep my cat from scratching the furniture? Is it even possible?"
Why do cats scratch?
What drives your soft and sweet friend to become scratch-happy? There are several reasons your cat might be scratching. The following behaviors fall under "normal" scratching:
- Claw maintenance: Cats scratch at objects to clean their claws and remove worn outer layers.
- Marking her turf: Regular scratching at the same location is a way for a cat to mark and maintain her territory.
- A form of exercise: Hooking into a surface and pulling backward is a way for cats to stretch their bodies.
- Entertainment: She isn't intentionally targeting your sofa corner or hands, but scratching is an enjoyable way for her to burn off some energy.
- A defense mechanism: Though it also occurs while playing, the swipe of a paw may be a show of body language by your cat that you’re petting a little too strongly.
Vertical scratching caused by stress
Cats tend to scratch more — and vertically — when they're feeling threatened or stressed. You might see scratch marks up and down a door jamb, window frame, sofa, or chair. This means your cat is nervous or unhappy and trying to increase her comfort level. This isn't good for your cat, or your home.
How to stop cats from scratching vertically
While scratching is as natural for cats as meowing, there are strategies to help reduce vertical scratching that will keep your couch corners safe from harm:
- Try Comfort Zone products: Comfort Zone products help to reduce vertical scratching and urine spraying. By mimicking the soothing feline facial pheromone, Comfort Zone products can give your cat a calm, relaxed feeling in any environment, even if it is next to your living room sofa.
- Cat scratching post: Want your cat and her claws away from the furniture? Entice her with a place where scratching is welcomed. Set up a scratching post in the area where she previously displayed vertical scratching to give her a spot for working out these urges.
- Deter her desire: Use deterrents, such as foil or double-sided tape, to cover up sought-after places for your kitty’s claws.
- Ready, aim, squirt: Teach your cat while gradually reducing vertical scratching by standing guard with a squirt bottle of water, and giving her a light spray each time the claws come out.
- Game time: Divert attention from fabrics by giving your cat a furry friend in the form of a toy. Cat behavior issues won't have time to take place if they are in hot pursuit of a fuzzy mouse.