Will Scratching Posts Stop Cats from Scratching Furniture?

One of the most common problems for cat owners is how to stop cats from scratching furniture. Scratching is a natural and necessary behavior that keeps your cat’s claws healthy and his muscles toned and strong. You can keep your cat happy and protect your furniture by providing him with a scratching post.

Choosing a Scratching Post

Which type of scratching post you choose will depend on your cat. If he picks the carpet, you will want a scratcher that lies flat on the floor. If he prefers to scratch the corners of couches or the legs of chairs, an upright scratching post will work better.

Scratching posts come in all shapes and sizes. Flat scratchers made of corrugated cardboard are inexpensive and provide an alternative surface for cats who like to scratch on carpet. They need to be replaced often, however.

Scratching posts made of sisal are more expensive, but they are durable and last for years. The rough sisal provides an ideal surface for cats to dig their claws into. These scratching posts come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

You will also find scratching posts covered in carpet. Be careful choosing these. Many cats do not like to scratch on soft surfaces. Those who do may have trouble understanding the difference between the carpet on the scratcher and the carpet on your floor.

Regardless of which scratching surface you choose, the scratcher needs to be big enough to allow your cat to stretch to his full height. This means a post between 24” and 32”.

Upright scratching posts should have a sturdy base. If it rocks or falls over easily, your cat will avoid using it.

Placing the Scratching Post

Where you put the scratching post is as important as what kind you buy. When you first introduce the scratcher, place it close to the piece of furniture or area of the carpet he is scratching. If he is scratching in more than one place, you may want to get multiple scratching posts. As he learns to use the scratcher instead of your furniture, you can move it to a more suitable location.

Your cat may enjoy stretching and scratching when he wakes up, so place a scratching post near his favorite napping spot. 

Your cat likes to be where you are, so avoid putting the scratching post in an out-of-the-way room.

Teaching Your Cat to Use the Scratching Post

Some cats understand immediately what to do with a scratching post. If your cat does not, you will need to teach him. The best way to do this is to use the scratching post yourself while he watches.

You can also drag a string or other toy over the scratcher. When your cat chases it, he will dig his claws into the post.

If your cat enjoys catnip, spray or rub it on the scratching post to make it more attractive to him.

Do not force your cat’s paws onto the scratcher. This may frighten him and make him avoid the scratching past.

Protecting Your Furniture

While your cat is learning to use the scratching post, you will need to make your furniture an unattractive place to scratch. Cats dislike the smell of citrus, so use strong smelling furniture polish or, for upholstery, citrus scented sprays.

You can also cover the area with double sided tape or plastic.

A scratching post can stop your cat from scratching the furniture, but only if you find one that best meets his needs and take the time to teach him to use it.