Cats need to scratch. It is a behaviour that has been embedded in them for thousands of years. Scratching actually has several different functions and most cats manage to get all their scratching needs outside. However, some cats take to scratching the furniture, carpets or walls and this can be extremely frustrating and upsetting as an owner.
One reason that cats scratch things is to keep their claws nice and sharp. Cats are natural hunters so it makes sense that they’d want to keep their ‘weapons’ in top condition. They may also use it to help them exercise or stretch out their muscles. Many cats use trees for this activity but if your pet is an indoor cat then they’ll turn to the next best thing, which unfortunately might just be your sofa.
Cats may also scratch the furniture as a way to mark their territory. Scratching releases their unique odour from the scent glands in their paws. This can be used as a form of communication between cats or to help them feel more secure if they begin to feel vulnerable at any time.
Your cat may also just be bored and in need of some entertainment. A cat may relish the attention that comes from scratching the furniture, even if it’s negative attention. Some cats can get overexcited and use scratching as a part of their play.
Purchasing a scratching post should help put an end to most scratching woes. Place the scratching post in front of the area they’ve been using and use their paws to ‘claw’ the post. This will help them learn what the new post is for and will also mark the post with their scent. Be sure to clean any previously scratched furniture well otherwise they will be attracted back to this by the scent they left during earlier scratching sessions.
If you think your cat is bored then try offering a wider variety of toys for them to play with. Toys that allow them to practice their hunting abilities are often popular. If you have a nervous cat that you think may be scratching due to stress or insecurity, you can try limiting their access to one or two rooms to help them feel more secure. You could also try spreading their scent around the house for them by dabbing around their face with a soft cloth and then wiping the cloth over the areas you’ve seen your cat scratching previously.
If the furniture scratching persists after trying several different techniques, see your vet or a behaviour specialist for further advice.