10 Natural Home Remedies to Stop a Cat from Scratching & Clawing

Last Updated on: October 9, 2020

A scratching and clawing cat is both annoying and destructive. Cats can easily ruin curtains, furniture, and even rugs if the behavior is allowed to continue. However, many pet owners aren’t sure what to do about the behavior and resort to yelling and scolding the cat, which is not only ineffective, it can make your cat afraid and change its behavior toward you.

We’ve racked our brains and scoured the internet for as many natural home remedies you can use to stop a cat from scratching and clawing as we could find, and we are going to present them to you here. Join us while we discuss the reasons why your cat scratches and the many ways you can try to prevent it from ruining your home.

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Natural Home Remedies

Here are the different remedies and techniques you can use to prevent your pet from scratching and clawing.

1. Trim Claws

Trimming your pet’s claws is a great first step in curbing your cat’s desire to scratch and claw. Cut nails are not as sharp and will not do as much damage. The shorter nails may also reduce your cat’s need to file them down and sharpen them on your furniture and carpet. Trimming the nails is easy, and they make a special cat nail clipper for the job. However, there are blood vessels in the nails, so you don’t want to cut them too short, or it can cause pain and even draw blood.

If you’re not sure how to trim the nails, we recommend watching some YouTube tutorials or making an appointment with a professional groomer so they can teach you.


2. Scratching Post

cat scratching post
Image Credit: EbneRol, Shutterstock

With your cat’s nails trimmed, the next best way to prevent damage to your furniture and carpet is to supply them with something else to scratch. A scratching post in its many variations is the ideal solution, and it eliminates damage once you convince the cat to use it. If your cat likes to claw furniture and curtains, the traditional scratching post will probably work best for you. If your cat likes to scratch the carpet, you will likely need one that lies flat on the floor.

Scratching posts come in all shapes and sizes and use different materials to create the scratching area. If your cat doesn’t like the one you buy, try a different type. The more, the merrier, as a rule of thumb when it comes to scratching posts. Cats also take a long time to warm up to new things. So, don’t get frustrated if they ignore it for a while when you bring it home.


3. Double-Sided Sticky Tape

Double-sided sticky tape is a fantastic deterrent, as cats don’t like to put their paws on anything sticky. To use this method, tape any areas where your cat likes to scratch, and once your cat notices it’s sticky, they will leave it alone.

The downside to double-sided sticky tape is that you will stick to it as well, so it’s not going to work on items you need to use. It can also look unsightly if placed on curtains, etc., so you may need to limit this remedy to hidden areas of the home.


4. Spray – Water

Many times, the simplest solutions work the best. One of the most effective deterrents that we have used is also the easiest to create. You make this deterrent by filling up a spray bottle with clean water. When you see your cat misbehaving, give them a little squirt with the water.  Most cats hate water and will quickly run away when you squirt them.

The downside to this method is that your cat may associate you with the spraying, which can affect their opinion of you. Your cat may also simply wait until you are not around to continue misbehaving.


5. Spray – Water and Apple Cider Vinegar

apple cider vinegar
Image Credit: ThamKC, Shutterstock

Another spray you can use combines equal parts clean water and apple cider vinegar. Unlike the water spray, you will not apply this solution directly to the cat and will apply to areas you want the cats to avoid instead. Cats don’t like the smell of apple cider vinegar and will avoid it if they can.


6. Spray – Citrus

The third type of spray we are going to tell you about is a citrus spray. To create a citrus spray, get a few lemons or oranges, and remove the peels. Put the peels in a pot of water and simmer for 30 minutes. Allow the solution to cool and pour through a fine strainer to remove any sediment. Pour the remaining liquid into a spray bottle and use it like the apple cider solution above. Spray it where you don’t want your cat to scratch.

Cats like citrus smell even less than they like apple cider vinegar and will avoid it when possible. The downside to citrus is that it also acts as a strong cleaner, which means it may cause discoloration where you spray it. Many people like to use essential oils like lemongrass and eucalyptus, which may work well, but essential oils can be harmful to cats, so we recommend avoiding them when possible.


7. Covers and Protectors

If you can’t deter your cat from the area, you can try to protect your furniture and rug by covering it with aluminum foil or plastic covers. Plastic covers are much easier to keep in place than aluminum, they cover the whole chair, and they work well.


8. Attention Redirection

cat laying on ground playing
Image Credit: Ingus Kruklitis, Shutterstock

You can try to distract your cats and redirect their attention away from scratching by using a toy that they enjoy. Catnip works well if your cats are sensitive to it. Lazers and robotic mice also work well to distract your cat when they begin to scratch.


9. Limit access

If none of the above methods work for you, you may need to limit access to the room where they are scratching. If you can’t shut off the room completely, you can put boxes or other obstacles in the way to prevent them access.


10.  Gently Scold

When you notice your cat going to scratch, you can gently scold them by saying NO sharply or making a hissing noise similar to the one they make. It’s often helpful to then pick your cat up and take it to the scratching post and hope it makes the connection. Sometimes the cats catch on quickly, while others take a few weeks.

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No Luck? Try These Other Options

cat scratching couch
Image Credit: Magdanatka, Shutterstock

If you have tried all the options above and still have not seen results, you might want to try one of these commercial methods.

Ultrasonic noise

Ultrasonic noise devices put out a loud whistle that is too high for humans to hear but well within the range of a cat. It’s very similar to the way a dog whistle works, but this tool uses electronics to create the sound. The advantage of an electronic device is that some are motion-sensitive or sound off when something gets too close.  You can place these devices near where your cat likes to scratch, and it will either go off automatically, or you can set it off by remote control.

When using an ultrasonic device, it’s important to make sure they are not too loud that they can damage the cat’s hearing. It can also scare them and change their behavior for the worse if you are not careful.


Pheromones

Pheromones is another product you can purchase that contains natural fragrances created by cats. You can use pheromones to calm your cats, prevent them from fighting, and to curb their scratching and clawing. The odor they release is undetectable to humans, and you usually plug them into the wall like an air freshener, but you can also purchase them in a spray bottle.

Unfortunately, like catnip, not all cats will respond to pheromones, and those that do don’t all react the same way.


Soft paws

Soft paws are a unique item that goes over your cat’s nails to prevent them from scratching. This product is like acrylic nails, and it attaches with glue. The nails and glue are non-toxic and fall off in three to four weeks. The primary difficulty when using Soft Paws is that it’s challenging to get the cat to sit long enough for you to apply them. Especially if it’s not the first time and the cat doesn’t like them.


Declawing

If your cat is bad, and you have tried everything with no results, you may need to have your cat declawed. While declawing your cat was popular several years ago, these days, it’s not in favor due to overwhelming evidence that it can harm the cat and cause long term health issues like arthritis. It also removes their natural defenses and leaves them open to certain dangers, especially if they like to go outside.

We recommend giving a considerable amount of thought to the pros and cons of declawing and the health risks to your cat before committing to the procedure. You will also want to check local laws because declawing is now illegal in some areas.

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So, Why do cats scratch?

cat with blue nail caps
Image Credit: Ekaterina Karetkina, Shutterstock

While no one can really tell what a cat is thinking or know for sure why a cat does the things it does, we can guess through careful observation. When a cat scratches, it seems like a form of stretching and possibly exercise. Cats often scratch with their arms outstretched, shoulders down and but in the air. If they scratch a chair or curtain, the form is the same, only more vertical.

The act of scratching cleans and sharpens their claws. It also works all the muscles in their paws, arms, shoulders, and back. They also release a scent through their paws that we can’t smell, but other animals can. Therefore, scratching is likely a way that a cat marks its territory. Studies show that cats without defined boundaries show signs of stress. It’s likely that cats instinctively mark their territory because they are carnivorous and need to protect their hunting grounds from other cats to protect their food supply. It’s also possible that the scent marks their “home” where they feel the most comfortable.

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Summary

We recommend purchasing several scratching posts for your cat and placing them around the home wherever your cats like to scratch. You can never have too many posts, and it allows them to clean, stretch, and exercise without causing damage to your home or furniture. It may take a while to train them to use it, so in the meantime, we recommend whatever natural home remedies work the best. Remember to pick them up and put them by the scratching post every time until they put the two together.

We hope you have enjoyed reading, and we have given you a few new ideas to try out. If we have helped deter your cats from ruining your furniture and rugs, please share this guide to natural home remedies to stop a cat from scratching on Facebook and Twitter.


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