Why do cats scratch furniture?



Why do cats scratch furniture?

Cats are known for their curious and mischievous nature. While they bring joy and companionship into our lives, they can also be a source of frustration when it comes to their scratching behavior. Many cat owners find themselves puzzled and exasperated as they discover their beloved feline using their furniture as a scratching post. So, why do cats scratch furniture? Let's explore the reasons behind this behavior and how you can redirect their scratching instinct in a more suitable manner.

The instinctual need to scratch

Scratching is a natural behavior for cats and serves several important purposes. Firstly, it helps them to maintain healthy claws by shedding the outer layers and keeping them sharp. Secondly, scratching provides a means for cats to stretch their bodies and flex their muscles, promoting overall well-being. Lastly, it allows them to mark their territory both visually and through scent glands located in their paws.

Marking territory

Cats have scent glands in their paws, which release pheromones when they scratch. These pheromones act as a form of communication, informing other cats in the area that this particular territory is claimed. By scratching furniture, cats are essentially leaving their mark and asserting ownership. This behavior is especially common in multi-cat households or in environments where outdoor cats may be present.

Sharpening claws

Another reason why cats scratch furniture is to sharpen their claws. The outer layer of a cat's claw is made of keratin, the same material found in our fingernails. By scratching, cats remove the outer, dull layer and reveal a sharper claw beneath. This is an essential part of their grooming routine and helps to maintain their claws in optimal condition for various activities like climbing and self-defense.

Physical and mental stimulation

Scratching also provides cats with valuable physical and mental stimulation. The act of scratching engages their muscles, allowing them to stretch and flex their bodies. It provides a form of exercise that keeps them physically active and promotes overall well-being. Mentally, scratching can serve as a stress relief mechanism and a way to alleviate boredom. It provides a healthy outlet for their energy, preventing destructive behaviors that may arise from pent-up frustration.

Redirecting their scratching behavior

Now that we understand the reasons behind a cat's inclination to scratch furniture, it is crucial to redirect this behavior towards more appropriate alternatives. Here are some strategies that can help:

1. Provide suitable scratching surfaces: Invest in a sturdy scratching post or cat tree that is tall enough for your cat to stretch fully. Choose a post covered in materials like sisal rope or cardboard, as these textures are more appealing to cats than furniture upholstery.

2. Make the furniture unattractive: Temporarily cover the furniture with double-sided tape or aluminum foil. These textures are unpleasant for cats and can deter them from scratching. Additionally, you can use deterrent sprays that have a scent cats find unappealing.

3. Positive reinforcement: Whenever you catch your cat using the scratching post or an appropriate surface, reward them with treats or praise. This positive reinforcement will encourage them to continue using the designated area for scratching.


Understanding why cats scratch furniture is the first step towards finding a solution to this common issue. By recognizing that scratching is a natural behavior driven by instinct, we can redirect their behavior towards suitable alternatives. Providing appropriate scratching surfaces, making furniture unattractive, and using positive reinforcement can help guide your cat towards healthier scratching habits. Remember, patience and consistency are key when training cats, so be prepared to invest time and effort into redirecting their instincts. And if you need further guidance on cat care, consider visiting nbcpet for helpful tips and resources.

Julieth Bill

Hi, I'm Julieth Bill. Before I was a writer for the NBCpet.com blog I was known for inventive and unusual treatments of dogs, cats, bird, fish, snakes, horses, rabbit, reptiles, and guinea pigs. Julieth worked for major zoos around the world. He Also Receives Pets a Scholarship.

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