There’s no question you adore your cat. But what do you do when your longtime feline companion decides to scratch up your leather couch? Or the adorable kitten you just brought home thinks your desk, coffee table, or kitchen counter are her domain?

It’s a common problem many cat-owners face: how to keep cats off the furniture. Fortunately, there are multiple safe and humane ways to deter your cat from lounging on or destroying your furniture. 

No two cats are the same, so it’s important to try multiple options to discover one that is effective for your cat. The right option can help save your sanity and home, while keeping kitty content.

First, though, let’s look at why some cats wreak havoc on your furniture in the first place.

Is Scratching the Source of the Issue?

Have you woken up to find your cat perched on top of your fridge or kitchen counter? Sometimes, discovering these kitty “thrones” can be amusing. However, it can also be surprising – or even annoying – to discover your cat claiming a piece of furniture for their own. Especially when that “claiming” involves scratching the furniture in question. 

Whether it is a couch corner, patio furniture, or the legs of tables and chairs, cat scratching can be destructive. But while it is a nuisance, cat scratching is a normal instinct for most cats and not a sign of “bad behavior.”

In fact, cats scratch for many different reasons:

  • To express emotions (like stress or excitement)
  • To boost their mood through dopamine and serotonin
  • To release excess energy
  • Stretching 
  • To prevent nail overgrowth
  • To mark areas with scent from their paw glands

What can you do? Many cat owners find success in introducing safe scratch options into their home.

Answering the following questions can help pinpoint which solution is right for you and your cat:

  • What is my cat frequently scratching?
  • How are they scratching it?
  • When do they scratch the most?

Some cats prefer certain textiles and surfaces when it comes to scratching. Things like rugs or fabric. Others prefer tall objects like furniture legs that help them stretch. For many cat owners, introducing a scratching post or cat tree checks both of these boxes. 

Get a Scratching Post or Scratch Pad

Does your cat scratch flat surfaces like your rug? A scratch pad might be preferable. You can place it over the areas where they were scratching. This both protects those areas and gives your kitty an alternate option

Once you find or make a scratching post or pad you like, it’s time to follow these steps:

  1. Put the scratching post in the area your cat seems to scratch the most.
  2. Introduce your cat to the new option. Rub it with catnip, or add a toy or treat to it to make it more desirable. Don’t try to force your cat onto it, though. This can backfire and cause an aversion to the post.
  3. Try to make their previous scratching spot harder to access. Until your cat has taken to their new post or pad, cover the old spot with a sheet or one of the other options below.

More Helpful Tips on How to Keep Cats Off the Furniture

Hopefully, the introduction of a cat tree, scratching post, or pad brings relief to both you and your cat. But there are also other humane options to help keep cats off the furniture or dissuade them from scratching.

Trim Your Cat’s Nails

One way to limit scratching? Prevent nail overgrowth. This is one of the main reasons cats scratch in the first place! Plus, trimmed nails are significantly less destructive.

You could invest in a pair of nail clippers for cats and attempt to trim them yourself. However, it’s wise to wait until your kitty is very calm or tired before attempting a trim. Because most cats don’t make it easy to cut their nails.

Alternatively, Essentials PetCare also offers nail trims as part of our cat and kitten services! Just notify one of our experienced technicians that you want to add a nail trim to any of our other services. It’s only $20 as a single add-on service.

Try Aluminum Foil

It’s an unusual fix – but often an effective one. 

Most cats do not like the sound or feel of slippery aluminum foil under their paws. So if they jump onto a surface lined with it, they will usually jump right off!

Consider Plastic Mats

If a scratching post or pad was effective for your kitty, consider laying plastic mats on your furniture. Some cats do not like the sensation of car mats under their feet. Others don’t like the nubs of plastic carpet.

There are mats specifically designed for this purpose, with small but safe plastic spikes.

Use a Spray Deterrent

Another effective option to deter cats is to use a spray bottle.

Some people find that squirting their kitty with plain water trains them to stay off furniture. Others spray their furniture directly with scents that are offensive to cats, like apple cider vinegar, citrus, or peppermint. 

Many pet stores sell scented sprays for this purpose. You can also make your own. As a nice bonus, they tend to deodorize pet odor too!

Put Down Tape 

It’s a tedious option, but one that almost always works: covering your furniture with double-sided or clear packing tape. 

Cats hate the sensation of slippery tape under their paws. It’s also significantly harder for them to sink their nails into. You can also buy specialty tape for this purpose at most pet stores. 

Change the Environment 

When all else fails, changing the environment is effective. Removing furniture or making it inaccessible to your kitty may not be fun. But it can help protect it in the short-term while you find an additional solution. 

And if your cat really took to their scratching post, consider adding more. Place them around your home so they have an option besides your furniture. 

What should you absolutely not do? Don’t declaw your cat!

Why not? There are several reasons.

The Truth about Declawing

If you’re really struggling with destructive scratching, declawing can seem like a good solution. But this procedure is strongly discouraged by the Humane Society. It’s even banned in some states

Why? Because it’s an incredibly painful procedure for your cat. It actually amputates the tips of their toes, and can even cause medical issues over time. 

Perhaps most importantly, declawing can alter their personality completely. It has been shown to change docile cats into angry and aggressive ones. 

Content Cats are Less Destructive 

Remember, scratching is an innate behavior for many cats. It is as ingrained as their desire to climb and explore parts of their home. But there are solutions to prevent scratching from becoming destructive.

Offer your cat multiple outlets for play and scratching with safe, alternate options. Once your kitty understands what they can do, they’re less likely to engage in behavior that they can’t do.

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