How to stop cats scratching carpets and furniture

If you’ve ever wondered how you can stop your cat scratching furniture I can give you a few ideas. One or more of them may even work!
Some cats are more likely to scratch than others. We have a “lucky” black cat which is the worst scratcher we’ve had, and we have a Siamese which hardly ever scratches. It seems to be down to personality.

There are physical, chemical and behavioural remedies available. We have had cats, for more than 40 years, so we think we know a bit about them, but we learn all the time.

Cats scratch because they want to shed the outer layers of their claws, which are rather like onion skins. It sharpens them and it also leaves their scent, marking their territory. They may do it to stretch and exercise. Outdoor cats will scratch trees or fence posts causing no problems. Indoor cats need a place to scratch.

1. Give your cat a scratching post: They are cheap and effective. They do use them and it should reduce their abuse of your carpets.
We have one upstairs and one downstairs.

2. Break their habit when possible. The moment you hear or see your cat scratching carpets or furniture, pick them up and stop them showing a disapproving voice, without making them feel insecure or frightened. If they are using the scratching post, talk to them approvingly so they understand that it is acceptable. They soon learn.

3. Increase their feeling of well-being. Cats do have psychological issues which may result in scratching, over-grooming and other odd behaviour. This can be alleviated by the use of spray or plug-in pheromone dispensers. These calm your cat and we have found them effective.
This is the Feliway cats starter kit plug in:

And this is the Feliway spray for immediate relief:

4. Give your cat toys to play with and play with your cat:
Sometimes cats will scratch just because they are bored. Get some toys and give then something else to do. You can get them from your local cheap shop, pound shops (or “todo” shops in Spain).

5. Clean the carpet where it was scratched.
Because cats like to leave scents from their paws, when it wears off they will do it again. If you clean the carpet with a little carpet shampoo on a cloth, this will remove the scent and the cat will not be attracted back to the same spot.

6. Cutting the claws can be considered as a final option:
Cutting the claws will reduce the short term immediate damage to your carpets. Watch the video at the bottom of this page which shows how to do it correctly.
Remember that cutting claws can split them, which may increase the cat’s desire to scratch and sharpen them again, so may be counter productive. You may end up having to clip the claws every 2 weeks to prevent damage, if you are still having problems after trying the above remedies.

I do hope that you have found this page useful, stopping your cat scratching can be a long uphill struggle.
However, even our “lucky” black cat is reformed and rarely scratches anything apart from her scratching post, which is the number 1 starting point to protecting your carpets and furniture.

If you have any concerns regarding your cat’s health issues please do refer to your veterinary surgeon.

Revised 21 October 2017

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