Why do cats scratch the furniture?

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Behold! Kitty, Sacrificer of Sofas! Usurper of Upholstery! Destroyer of Decorations! Furniture shall fear her and despair!

So, you got a new cat and now your house is falling apart? Welcome to the cat owner’s club.

It’s common for cats to scratch lots of things and the contents of your home are obvious targets. They’re robust, likely made from naturally materials and, well, they’re handy (and sometimes in life, that’s all you need).

While it’s a common behaviour amongst cats, like all behaviours there are ways to affect a degree of change. That doesn’t mean every cat can be trained to not scratch furniture (let’s face it, some cats are just too stubborn to change!), but some can be, or at least you’ll be able to minimise the havoc they are wreaking on your home.

Let’s try to understand the reasons why cats scratch furniture

Cats scratch to hone their claws

It may seem that they are sharpening their claws to plot your downfall, but this really is a natural cat behaviour and can be seen in a range of different feline species, not just domesticated house cats. Cats are conditioned to smooth out their claws – after all, if you were walking around with your nails digging into every possible surface, you’d also be more keen to keep them in good condition.

Think about how annoying and noticeable a hangnail is. Cats have much sharper senses than we do and use their claws much more, so it makes sense that they would notice imperfections and want to maintain them more.

It also lets them mark their territory

If your cat is scratching your furniture when they didn’t before, it could be a sign of stress. This could be triggered by insecurities:

  • A new cat prowling your back garden.
  • Your cat flap being unsecured.
  • A change of furniture (no “perches” to view the room from).

By scratching, cats release their “marking” hormone which emits from between their toes when they scratch something. This lets them establish their territory and ensure no interlopers come in uninvited.

Cats also just like to stretch

Stretching and scratching feel good for a cat, so they’ll want to keep doing it as much as possible – particularly if they’re bored. It might even be down to habit – cats are quite literally creatures of habit! If your cat has a favourite scratching spot then it could be pretty tough to get them to give it up!

Keep an eye out for our follow up post on what to do if your cat is scratching your furniture – coming soon!

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