How To Stop Your Cat From Ruining Your Sofa
As proud parents of three indoor cats, we have managed to keep the damage to our sofa to a minimum. In this blog post, we aim to explore the reasons behind cats' scratching behaviour, promote understanding and acceptance of this natural act, and offer suggestions on redirecting scratching away from the sofa.
Understanding Why A Cat Scratches Sofas
Cats scratch for several reasons, including both instinctual and practical purposes. Here are some of the main reasons why cats engage in scratching behaviour:
Claw Maintenance: Scratching helps cats maintain healthy claws by removing the outer dead layers and keeping them sharp.
Stretching & Exercising: Scratching provides a good stretching exercise for cats. It helps them stretch their bodies, extend their muscles, and keep their joints limber. It also helps them flex their paws.
Marking Territory: Cats have scent glands in their paws, and when they scratch, they leave behind their scent as a way to mark their territory. This marking behaviour helps them communicate with other cats and establish their presence in an area.
Stress Relief: Scratching can be a way for cats to release pent-up energy and relieve stress. It serves as an outlet for their natural behaviours and instincts.
Emotional Expression: Cats may scratch as a form of emotional expression. For example, when they're excited or happy, they may engage in scratching behaviour as a way to show their contentment.
Above: Cat scratching is both instinctual and practical
Accepting Cat Scratching Behaviour
Every month, countless individuals turn to Google with the search query "how to stop cats from scratching sofas," highlighting the widespread concern surrounding this. However, embracing scratching as a normal and healthy cat behaviour is the best step toward easing our worries.
Finding peace of mind involves accepting things that are beyond our control. When we acknowledge that cat scratching is a natural instinct, we liberate ourselves from the stress, frustration, and anxiety that arise from attempting to change or resist it.
It's important to understand and accept that your cat will likely scratch your sofa at some point, whether minimally or extensively. Rather than striving to eliminate scratching behaviour altogether, our goal should be to redirect it away from the sofa. Here's how you can achieve that...
Meeting Cats' Needs to Prevent Sofa Scratching
It's important to address all aspects of your cat's scratching behaviour to effectively redirect it and protect your furniture. Providing appropriate cat scratchers, encouraging exercise and play, and creating a suitable territory for your cat can all contribute to minimising unwanted scratching on your sofa. By considering the various reasons why cats scratch, you'll have a more comprehensive strategy for managing their behaviour.
Cat Claw Maintenance
When a cat scratches, the repetitive motion helps condition and maintain the sharpness of their claws. Scratching allows them to shed the outer layer of their claws, exposing the fresh, sharper claws underneath.
Scratchers made from fabric, sisal, or corrugated cardboard are an absolute must for every cat home. Place these scratchers near the sofa, making them easily accessible alternatives.
Fabric Scratchers for Cats
Cats are attracted to scratching cotton or fabric sofas for a few reasons:
Texture: Cotton and fabric sofas often have a slightly textured surface that can feel pleasing to a cat's paws. Cats may find the texture interesting or enjoyable to scratch against.
Scent marking: Cats have scent glands in their paws, and scratching allows them to leave their scent as a way of marking their territory. Fabric materials can absorb and retain the cat's scent, which may attract them to scratch those surfaces repeatedly.
A great sofa alternative for cats is the Karimoku Cat Tree which has cotton scratch posts. This will maintain your cats claws just as well as sisal, and give cats that soft, slightly textured surface they crave in sofas.
Above: Karimoku Cat Tree—with Cotton Scratch Posts.
Available at Made Moggie
These cotton scratch posts are replaceable too, making this a long lasting piece of cat scratching furniture. Because it is free standing, you can place it directly in front of where your cat scratches, and slowly move it away from the sofa as it becomes your cats scratch go-to.
Sisal Scratchers for Cats
Cats are often attracted to scratching sisal material for several reasons:
Texture: Sisal has a rough and fibrous texture that provides a satisfying and tactile experience for cats. It allows them to dig their claws into the material, giving them a sense of traction and control during scratching.
Resistance: Sisal offers a moderate amount of resistance when scratched. This resistance allows cats to exercise their claws and engage their muscles as they pull against the material.
Natural instinct: Cats have an innate instinct to scratch and mark their territory. Sisal, being a natural fibre derived from the leaves of the sisal plant, may mimic the texture of tree bark or rough surfaces found in the wild. Cats are naturally drawn to scratch such surfaces as part of their instinctual behaviour.
Above: Profeline Sisal Scratcher—a great space saving solution for cat homes.
Available at Made Moggie
These appealing Sisal Scratch Mats by Profeline don't easily shred or fray, making it a long-lasting option for cat scratching. The sisal in these scratchers are chained by hand so they are extra durable and can withstand the repeated scratching and clawing of a cat. Another good feature is once used, they are easy to dispose of and recycle, unlike a regular scratch post.
Creating Territory for Your Cat
Recognising the Significance of Cat Beds
Cats have an innate instinct to mark their territory, and sofas often fall into that category, especially if they frequently rest or sleep on them. Scratching becomes a means for them to establish their presence. To safeguard your sofa, it's worth providing additional territory and dedicated spaces for your cat.
Introducing one or more cat beds can serve as an alternative space that fulfils your cat's territorial needs. By offering specific beds that they regularly utilise, you enable them to establish these areas as their own personal domains.
Cats are naturally drawn to comfortable and familiar surfaces for scratching. If your cat has a tendency to scratch fabric sofas, it may be because they find the material cosy and enjoy the cushioning or softness it provides. A cat bed can address this preference as well.
It's important to note that a wide array of cat bed options are available, designed to seamlessly blend into your home decor. This variety ensures that you can find a bed that satisfies both your aesthetic concerns and your cat's needs.
Above: Karimoku Cat Bed in exquisite oak wood—an elegant haven for your cat's personal territory. Available at Made Moggie
Like the Karimoku Cat Bed sold at Made Moggie. Not only does this cat bed serve as a cosy retreat, but it also satisfies your cat's instinctual need for territory. The inviting design and comfortable cushioning create a haven where your cat can relax, play, and mark their special place.
Tall Cat Scratchers
Providing tall cat scratchers designed for big stretches can be an effective way to redirect your cat's stretching behaviour away from your sofa. Tall cat scratchers offer vertical surfaces that allow cats to fully extend their bodies and stretch their muscles, which is a natural behaviour for them.
Above: Profeline Tall Cat Scratchers—provide cats with a full body stretch.
Available at Made Moggie
Here are a few reasons why tall cat scratchers can be beneficial:
Mimicking natural stretching behaviour: Cats naturally stretch by extending their bodies vertically. Tall cat scratchers provide a suitable alternative to satisfy this instinctual behaviour. By offering a tall scratching surface, you give your cat an appropriate outlet for their stretching needs.
Placement and accessibility: Position the tall cat scratcher in an easily accessible and desirable location. Cats often prefer scratching surfaces that are conveniently located near their favourite resting spots or areas with high foot traffic. Placing the scratcher strategically can increase the chances of your cat using it instead of your sofa.
Stability and sturdiness: Tall cat scratchers should be stable and sturdy to withstand your cat's scratching and stretching actions. Ensure that the scratcher is well-built and doesn't wobble or tip over easily. A stable scratcher provides a safe and secure surface for your cat's stretching needs. Profeline Cat Scratchers at Made Moggie can hold a cat's entire weight and will not wobble or tip like scratch posts can.
Above: Profeline Wall Cat Scratchers—will not wobble or tip.
Available at Made Moggie
Remember to encourage and redirect your cat to the tall scratcher whenever you notice them stretching or attempting to scratch the sofa. Positive reinforcement, such as praise, treats, or interactive play, can help reinforce the desired behaviour of using the scratcher.
Stress Relief for Cats
Cats may scratch out of boredom. When cats don't have enough mental and physical stimulation, they may resort to scratching as a way to alleviate boredom or frustration (i.e. stress relief). Scratching provides them with an outlet for their energy and helps keep them mentally engaged. So we need to offer alternatives that can fulfil this need, like...
Regular interactive play sessions using toys that simulate prey can help engage your cat's natural hunting instincts and provide mental and physical stimulation. Use toys like wand toys, or puzzle toys to keep them active and entertained. Engaging in play sessions with interactive toys can also redirect their energy away from furniture scratching.
Above: Made Moggie's own cat with the Profeline Felted Teaser Cat Toy—toys that simulate prey. Available at Made Moggie
Cats are social animals, and having a feline companion allows them to engage in natural social behaviours. They can play together, groom each other, and engage in friendly wrestling or chasing games. This social interaction provides mental stimulation and physical exercise, keeping them entertained and reducing boredom.
Cats are often more comfortable and content when they have a companion around. Having another cat to interact with can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and provide emotional support. It can reduce stress and anxiety, especially when their human caregivers are away.
Walking a cat with a harness can be a rewarding experience for both you and your feline companion. It offers numerous benefits, including stress relief, mental and physical stimulation, and strengthening the bond between you and your cat.
It's essential to prioritise the safety and comfort of your cat during outdoor activities. Ensure the harness is properly fitted. Avoid busy or noisy areas, and be mindful of potential hazards.
Emotional Expression in Cats
When you notice your cat about to scratch the furniture, redirect their attention to a suitable scratching option. You can use toys or treats to lure them to the scratching post and encourage them to engage with it.
Above: Profeline Teaser Hunting Wild—use this cat wand to redirect your cat towards their scratcher. Available at Made Moggie
When your cat uses the appropriate scratching options, provide positive reinforcement. Praise and reward your cat with treats, gentle petting, or playtime immediately after they use the scratching post. This positive association helps them understand that using the scratchers is desirable behaviour.
Harmony at Home: Fulfilling Your Cat's Needs for Happiness and a Scratch-Free Sofa
If you address a cat's various needs, such as claw maintenance, stretching and exercising, marking territory, stress relief, and emotional expression, they are less likely to scratch your sofa. By providing suitable outlets and alternatives, you can minimise the chances of them resorting to scratching furniture.
Cat beds or designated spaces can fulfil their need for territory and offer comfort. Appropriate cat scratchers can address claw maintenance. Engaging them in play, providing environmental enrichment, and ensuring they feel secure and content can reduce stress and prevent destructive scratching behaviours.
Meeting these needs will help create a harmonious environment where both you and your cat can coexist happily without sofa damage.