How do I stop my cat scratching the furniture?

81359b2e-0222-461d-b7af-8fa108e98ffc

One of our readers asks if there's any way of stopping her cat from scratching the sofa...

Q) I bought my cat a scratching post to stop him scratching the furniture, but he just completely ignored it and things are worse than ever! He is three and is very well behaved other than this. How can I get him to leave my sofa alone?

Helen Wiggins

Kim says: Scratching is a normal and natural feline behaviour. Cats need to scratch to keep their claws in good condition, to mark their territory, and to help stretch their muscles. However, this normal behaviour can become an annoying habit when your cat chooses to scratch your sofa.

Often owners purchase scratch posts that are far too short and unstable for their cat, which leads to a cat finding an alternative and more suitable place to scratch — even if this is your furniture! A suitable vertical scratch post should be tall enough for your cat to stand on his hind legs at full stretch and strong enough to withstand his weight. A Maine Coon cat was entered into the 'Guinness Book of World Records' because he was 48.5 inches at full stretch, a staggering 4ft! I suspect that your cat is not as big as this record-breaking Maine Coon, but I am sure he will be bigger at full stretch than you think. Position the new scratch post close to the sofa where he has been directing this unwanted behaviour.

It is very important to note that if you catch him scratching your furniture, do not communicate with him in any way. Giving him attention (whether positive or negative) will actually serve to increase this undesired behaviour. Instead, reward him with petting, treats, praise, and attention when he approaches the new scratch post, or if you catch him using it. The important thing to remember is to reward the behaviour that you want to see again and do not reward the unwanted behaviour.

If all else fails, there is a product on the market called Feliscratch by Feliway. Feliscratch is designed to control inappropriate scratching towards household furniture by helping to redirect scratching behaviour on to a desired location.