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Behavior & training


How to Stop Your Cat From Scratching The Couch

How to stop cat from scratching couch

Cats love to scratch couches. There are many reasons why they do this (some of which may surprise you). The good news is that regardless of why cats scratch the couch, it’s possible to learn how to stop your cat from scratching the couch with resources and behavior modification practices.

Why Do Cats Scratch the Couch (or Anything)?

First, it’s worth knowing why your cat scratches the couch. Cats scratch the couch because it’s instinctive. They are not only grooming, honing their claws, but they’re also expressing their emotions. Cats scratch to show excitement or stress. Cats also have scent glands in their paws; when they scratch, they leave traces of their scent, essentially “marking their territory”.

Get a Scratching Alternative for Your Cat

While it’s not entirely clear why the couch is prized among all other scratchable objects in your home, it’s typical for cats to prefer to scratch the couch. This could have to do with the texture of the furniture or the fact that your scent is also on the couch and the cat is bonding with you. Regardless of why, it’s important to stop the behavior.

  • Provide your cat with a scratching alternative to the couch; get your cat a scratching post with multiple textures and surfaces. Different cats like different things. Some like carpet and upholstery while others like cardboard or wood. Lots of options will give your cat a place to find what strikes their fancy.
  • Entice your cat to scratch a different surface by rubbing that surface with catnip. Hang toys on the scratching post, and place the post in a location near you, so your cat gets to have the bonding experience with you while scratching.

Make Your Cat Dislike Scratching Your Couch

You may have tried this…getting a new place for your cat to scratch and realized that…your cat still scratches the couch. As frustrating as this is, it’s not surprising. Your cat will need a little more encouragement to truly stop scratching.

  • Sticky or double-sided tape placed where your cat likes to scratch on your couch is a deterrent; aluminum foil taped to the couch may also work. If it sounds unsightly, don’t worry…once your cat is trained, you can remove the covers and tape.
  • Spray your couch with a citrus-scented spray. Cats are generally repelled by citrus. Ideally, the citrus scent on the couch and the catnip scent on the scratching post will divert your cat away from the furniture and toward the post.

Reward Your Cat for Using the Scratching Post

Your cat should be rewarded for using the scratching post to further encourage them to use that and to not use the couch for their scratching needs. Every time your cat uses the scratching post, give them a treat to positively reinforce the behavior. Just as with using tape on the couch, you won’t have to treat your cat forever, but doing so at the beginning will help you cat build a habit of using the scratching post.

Once your cat is fully trained, you’ll want to give them treats occasionally when they scratch on the scratching post to continue reinforcing the behavior.

Maintain Your Cat’s Nails

Lastly, as noted, cats scratch to sharpen their claws and to fix where they’ve broken or become jagged. If you regularly trim your cat’s claws (every two weeks), then your cat will be less inclined to want to scratch in general. If you’ve made the couch an unhospitable environment for scratching while encouraging use of the scratching post, then your cat will eventually become conditioned to never scratch the couch and to only use the scratching post as needed.

While cats have a variety of reasons for scratching, you still want to stop your cat from scratching the couch. By negatively reinforcing the behavior of scratching the couch and by positively reinforcing the behavior of scratching something appropriate like a scratching post, you can change your cat’s scratching habits for good. By using healthy cat treats like those made by Wellness Pet Food, you can more rapidly condition your cat’s behavior to not scratch the couch.

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