Train Your Cat Not to Scratch The Couch

Cat scratching couch

“It’s like herding cats!”

“Don’t let the cat out of the bag!”

“He put the cat among the pigeons with that rude comment!”

Some of our favorite American idioms are inspired by the fact that cats are notorious for being unruly, unmanageable creatures.

However, it’s a myth that cats can’t be managed or trained.

In fact, if your cat is laying waste to your favorite piece of furniture, there are a few quick tricks you can use to train your cat to scratch safe surfaces and leave your comfy sofa alone.

Think Positive

Despite your cat’s resting aloof face, she’s actually a highly emotional little princess. Keep this in mind when training your cat.

Cats who are punished for bad behaviors are far more likely to engage in the bad behavior you’re trying to stop. Why? Cats often scratch surfaces as a way to reduce stress. Sure, the mini manicure and stretching are secondary bonuses, but they’re all ways your cat self-soothes.

Punishing your cat just adds more stress to your cat’s life and can lead to more misbehavior and even health problems.

Instead of resorting to punishments - like locking your cat in a room, spraying her with water, or pushing her away - focus on encouraging and rewarding her for doing good behaviors.

Introduce An Alternative

cat scratching posts

As a cat parent, you need to come to terms with the fact that your cat has to scratch something. Your cat isn’t super picky about what she needs to scratch, so she’s just looking for the best option in her environment. If that best option happens to be your curtains, couch, or new dress, you need to give her a better one.

While jumbo cat habitats may scream “I love my cat and I’m willing to give up half my house for her!,” they’re not necessary. All your cat really needs is a sturdy surface that can hold up to her lovely claws. It doesn’t have to take up a ton of space.

Ideally, give your cat two options: one vertical and one horizontal. Cats will often choose one vertical surface (like your curtains or the back of your couch) and one horizontal surface (like your bedspread or rug) to scratch

If you want to put an end to your cat scratching the sofa, place a vertical cat scratcher (we like this one for it’s neutral colors, durable base, and appeal to all felines) right next to where she usually scratches. Cats are creatures of habit, so the easiest way to save your furniture is to make the transition easy on your cat.

You can do the same for horizontal surfaces, as well. While it may not look good to have a cat scratcher in the middle of your living room floor if that’s where your cat prefers to pull at your rug, don’t worry - it’s a temporary spot. Horizontal cat scratchers come in everything from super economical options (like this one), to fun play places, to chic pieces of household furniture.

Make the Right Choice Irresistible

The best way to make your cat choose the cat scratcher over your furniture or home decor is to make the scratcher irresistible. Cat scratchers made from sisal or cardboard are ideal for sneaking bits of catnip into the folds.

vertical cat scratching post


Simply sprinkle a bit of dried catnip onto the surface (if you have a vertical scratcher, you may need to lay it on its side for this step), and gently rub the herb into the scratcher. As soon as your cat walks past the scratcher, she’ll be enticed to dig into her new toy to find all the catnipy goodness you’ve hidden inside.

Other cats may not be as enticed by catnip. If yours is one of those rare creatures, find out what she loves and make it a part of her scratcher. If she likes jingle balls, tie a few to some yarn or twine and use a staple gun to affix them to the top of your scratching post. If your cat prefers to bat around feathers (or - ahem - cotton swabs), you can get creative with your scratcher decor.

You don’t have to go overboard customizing your cat’s scratcher. Oftentimes just adding some catnip or silvervine to the scratcher is plenty to get your cat to choose the prefered surface over your beloved possessions.

You’re The Boss

Despite what your cat thinks, you are the boss in your household. If you don’t want a cat scratcher visible in your living room, you don’t have to. The key is to gradually transition your cat’s scratcher to wherever you approve.

cat perch and scratching post

Now that your cat is hooked on the delicious scents and satisfying scratching experience of your scratcher, it’s time to gradually move the scratcher to its permanent location. Slowly inch your cat’s scratcher through your house day by day.

Moving your cat’s scratcher about 4 to 6-inches in the right direction each day should hold your cat’s attention without sending her running back to her old, taboo scratching spot on your furniture.

If you notice your cat has lost the trail, move her scratcher back to the last successful position until she catches on. Then you can resume the migration process.

And there you have it - you’ve mastered the method of herding cats and stopping unwanted scratching!

Does your cat have a particularly whimsical cat scratcher? We’d love to see photos! Share with us by tagging @PrettyLitterCats on Instagram!




Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

Author



11 Responses

Parveen Angel
Parveen Angel

August 06, 2018

I wish I could have thought of this many years ago. Such a good idea.

Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

May 03, 2018

@Georgie – Have you tried rubbing catnip in your scratchers? Unfortunately, your cats will probably continue scratching the couch unless you make the scratchers more irresistible and rewarding than the couch. Catnip works wonders :)

Georgie
Georgie

May 03, 2018

I have 7 different types of scratchers. Cats get weekly manicures and pedicures. They still scratch the couch.

Heather
Heather

March 21, 2018

I have a huge cat tree with TONS of stuff to scratch, but she STILL scratches the sofa. I have tried sprays, tape, foil, and have even put the plastic sleeves over her claws. NOTHING works…she does as she pleases.

Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

March 21, 2018

@ Martha Osborne – Hey Martha! It sounds like your cat has a very particular preference. I’d recommend getting something cat-friendly that’s similar to a computer cable – like a piece of yarn or a toy on a wire – and hanging it near your computer cable. Whenever your cat starts pulling on the computer cable, wiggle the cat-safe option so she’ll be attracted to that option instead. :-)

@Nancy – Have you tried giving your cat a pedicure? If he’s still scratching, he may be having trouble sloughing off the outer sheath of his nails. Give him a trim and he may be less likely to destroy your molding :-) Give this article a read and let us know how it goes: https://prettylittercats.com/blogs/prettylitter-blog/how-to-trim-your-cats-nails-without-pain

Courtney
Courtney

March 20, 2018

My cats have a giant cat jungle gym type thing they love and use the posts on that, but also scratch absolutely every surface they can get their paws on. I have tried the sprays, tin foil, double sided tape, my cats don’t care lol.

Robert Tanner
Robert Tanner

March 18, 2018

We introduced a few scratching cat surfaces around the house for our two cats a few years ago and our cats have left our furniture alone every sense. It does work well.

Laura Bailey
Laura Bailey

March 16, 2018

I wish I could have thought of this many years ago. Such a good idea.

Sharon
Sharon

March 16, 2018

I have 8 scratching posts in the den, both vertical & horizontal, she scratches my recliner I do not yell at her I move one of the “scratchers” to that spot. We play this game every once in a while, she then scratches the back of the recliner. She’s scratching in a vertical, and she is right next to a vertical sisal post. Any other advice? Sharon

Martha Osborne
Martha Osborne

March 15, 2018

My cat is declared, so scratching isn’t a problem. She DOES like to pull on th computer cable that is behind the desk. It doesn’t damage anything, but the whining that goes with it, is going to send me over the edge. Help!

Nancy
Nancy

March 15, 2018

I did everything… offered 3 different alternatives, disciplined bad behavior, tried the cat tape, spray..nothing worked… he would continually scratch the wood molding on my doorframes.

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