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Why Do Cats Scratch Furniture? Reasons & Solutions

Cats seem to have a vendetta against furniture. Why are they such determined furniture destroyers?

The carnage does not end with the furniture, as cats will also go after your upholstery, carpets, and anything else they can sink their claws into, leaving you wondering what you could have done to warrant such treatment from your pet.

Nevertheless, cats do not scratch up your stuff for the fun of it (well, maybe a little); they have valid reasons for doing so. In this article, we shall discuss why cats scratch furniture, in addition to providing you with solutions to this problem.

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Why Do Cats Scratch Furniture?

Your cat does not scratch your furniture because they hate you.

The various reasons for this behavior boil down to one thing: instinct. Scratching is instinctual to the Felidae family, which comprises all animals colloquially known as cats, from the mighty tiger to your kitty.

cat scratching
Image Credit: Paws for Life Rescue, Flickr

Cats scratch for several important reasons, some of which include:

Nail Grooming

A cat needs to keep its claws sharp. This is because their claws act as digits or fingers to them. They use them to grab things, fight, and communicate through scratching. However, unlike typical nails, claws do not grow continuously.

Instead, the newer, sharper claw grows inside the older, withering claw. Therefore, to expose the new claw, they must remove the older claw acting as a sheath or husk. Scratching is the most effective way of doing that.

cat scratching the carpet
Image Credit: Maliflower73, Shutterstock

Communication

Scratching allows your cat to send an important message to other cats, like “this scratched item is mine, and nobody should touch it.” As you already know, cats are territorial. Even among siblings, if one cat claims something, the others try not to cross that boundary. This is why a cat will never use another’s bed or favorite toy.

Scratching also allows cats to scent mark their territory, thanks to the sweat glands on their inner paws.

cat scratching furniture
Image Credit: Ali Leila Images, Shutterstock

Exercise and Stress Relief

You will notice that cats tend to combine scratching with stretching. This is not coincidental, as combining these movements allows cats to target the muscles in their forelimbs and spines more effectively.

Scratching also acts as a form of stress relief, which explains why cats tend to scratch more when they are in distress.

As you can see, cats do not mean any harm when they scratch; they are simply following their instincts. However, why do they prefer furniture?

The reason is simple; your couch or table is a sturdy surface. As mentioned, cats love combining scratching with stretching. As such, the surface should be sturdy enough to bear the cat’s weight. Additionally, fabrics feel great against the cat’s claws.

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How to Stop Your Cat from Scratching Your Furniture

Frustrated with their pet, some owners resort to declawing their cat. However, declawing is an inhumane practice that is banned in most countries, including the United States. Declawing is not only painful but also handicaps the cat. According to the Humane Society, declawing a cat is akin to cutting off a human’s fingers at the last knuckle.

Fortunately, there are simpler but more effective solutions to this problem. They include:

Buying a Cat Scratcher

A cat scratcher, as the name suggests, is a tool designed specifically for scratching by cats. As such, it provides your cat with a scratching surface that feels natural to them. However, these toys can vary significantly in quality. Therefore, do your research first to find the best scratcher for your cat.

white cat scratching a post
Image Credit: cecilia_j, Flickr

Use Anti-Scratch Tape

The sticky nature of anti-scratch tape is extremely annoying to cats. Simply place strips of this tape on your furniture, and your cat will start looking elsewhere. Here is a good and affordable anti-scratch tape.

Use Vinyl Guards

Vinyl is not a good scratching surface, which is why installing clear vinyl panels on your furniture would be an excellent idea.

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Conclusion

When you decide to share your living space with any pet, you must learn everything you need to know about them. This way, you will know what to expect from the animal. Unfortunately, most new cat owners make the mistake of assuming that caring for cats is a breeze, only for the animal to wreak havoc on their furniture.

The good news is that you do not have to stop your cat from scratching. The solutions provided in this article should help you and your cat to find a happy medium.

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Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock