We love our cats. We just don’t always love the effect they have on our sofas. To preserve our sanity (and our money), let’s discuss how to protect furniture from cats.
You’re relaxing in the evening. You have your glass of wine in hand, you’re unwinding from your stressful day, and then you hear it — the unmistakable sound of little cat claws digging into your lovely furniture, wreaking untold destruction on beloved armchairs and sofas. Immediately, your relaxed mood evaporates.
It’s happened to us all. And it’s part and parcel of cat ownership, dealing with cat scratching and subtly encouraging them to refocus their innate scratching impulses to target a less desirable object — namely, their cat scratcher or climbing pole you lovingly bought for them. At some point, we all frantically Google “how to protect furniture from cats”, desperate for a little guidance and support.
We’ve got some good news — we’ve done all the research for you. Let’s look into why cats scratch furniture and what to do and not to do when it comes to cat scratch vandalism. In no time, you’ll have a happy, content cat who won’t feel the need to shred your furniture to bits.
Could all this scratching be down to anxiety? While you’re here, check out signs of anxiety in cats.
Why Do Cats Scratch Furniture?
Before discussing how to protect furniture from cats and how to stop them from destroying everything we own, we should probably discuss the “why”. The more we understand our cat’s behaviour, the better able we are to divert their attention elsewhere.
So the reality of the situation is this — cats need to scratch. It’s part of their evolution. You can’t fight it. And it’s not a simple act, either — scratching is part of how cats communicate, but it also serves a number of functions:
- Scratching helps cats establish their scent around their home and mark their territory.
- Cats scratch as a way of stretching their feet and bodies, strengthening their muscles and tendons, from their neck to their toes.
- Scratching helps cats to shed the outer layers of their claws.
- Scratching acts as a stress reliever for our cats.
Cats. Will. Always. Scratch
All this is to say that you can’t fight nature — you shouldn’t even try. We want to really drive home the idea that cats will always scratch. And they need to. But don’t feel disheartened. While you will never be able to stop Snuffles from scratching, you’ll certainly be able to help control where they scratch. We might think of cats as highly independent, but they are quite trainable in this sense. They just need a little patience and a little nudge in the right direction.
How to Protect Furniture from Cats
Let’s get down to real, practical steps and advice. Here’s how to protect your furniture from your cats while also allowing them to indulge in their normal, healthy scratching habits:
Provide Your Furry Friend with Quality Scratching Posts
You don’t want them to scratch your sofa — that’s fair enough. But they have to attack something. With that in mind, it’s worth investing in a quality scratching post. One that can withstand a lot of tugging and scratching from a very determined cat. We recommend one of our luxury scratching posts. They’re wall-mounted, they’re sturdy and they’ll last a long time. They’re also gorgeous, so they’ll fit in well with your decor.
You might even want to get a few — have one lined up horizontally, another vertically — to give your cat a few options and see what they prefer.
Related: Why do cats have a mad half hour?
Make Them Love Their Scratching Posts More Than Your Expensive Sofa
Once you have your scratching posts, the real work begins. You need to figure out where to place them — putting them near your existing furniture will help them transition. If you put them somewhere your cat rarely goes, you have to expect your cat will rarely use them.
When you have your scratching posts or poles assembled, you should use catnip to your advantage. Rub some fresh catnip all over the post — this will help attract your cat and retain their attention! As well as catnip, there are specific pheromone products that cats love. Just experiment and see what works for you.
Related: What does catnip do to cats?
Reinforce and Praise Good Kitty Behaviour
Cats respond really well to positive reinforcement. Whenever you see your cat scratching their post, give them a lot of praise. Stroke them, give them treats, make a real fuss of them.
Keep Your Cat Active
Cats are wild creatures at heart! They need plenty of exercise, stimulation and engagement. If they get bored or they are inactive, they are more likely to scratch away. Spend time with your cat. Play with them. Dangle ribbons, play with a catnip toy and maybe even buy a cat climber for them to run around on. You’ll notice a marked improvement in their scratching habits.
Related: How to get a fat cat to exercise
What Not to Do!
Almost as important as what you should do is what you shouldn’t. No matter how frustrated, resist the urge to shout at your cat or to shoo them away. Far from saving your furniture, you’ll simply stress out your cat and potentially cause them to act out. You don’t want your cat to be afraid of you.
Instead, when you see your cat scratching your furniture, simply pick them up, move them away or place them by their scratching post. Eventually, they’ll get the idea, especially if you use a lot of praise and love.
Have Patience — It Will Take Time
The most important thing is for you to be patient with your cat. Despite their reputation, cats do want their owners to be happy. So they’ll work with you, but they might take time to change their ways. Understand that they are fighting a natural urge. As their owner, the more you can help them channel their behaviour, the happier everyone will be.