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Furniture Protection - Cat Scratching Tips to Change Behavior

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

Short of getting rid of the cat, how can we make the cat stop scratching our furniture? We got the cat for our two kids who love playing with him, but one problem has been his scratching the furniture. We bought a cat post, and now the cat scratches both the post and the couch. I'm tired of watching the furniture getting ripped up, and am seriously thinking of having the cat de-clawed, but my husband says that's cruel. Do you agree with him or me?


Ready to scream

Dear Ready to scream,

Cat scratching is normal behavior for a cat, and you need to re-direct his scratching to appropriate objects.

The consensus from the various Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is that de-clawing is cruel and unnecessary. A de-clawed cat may gradually lose muscle tone and balance, and thus become more prone to injury. According to the American SPCA, many countries in Europe have outlawed declawing (

The SPCA recommends that cat owners with this problem find alternatives to de-clawing a cat.

Some of the basics for re-training your cat to claw the scratching post and not the furniture are:

1. Place the scratching post close to the couch area where the cat scratches.

2. Always call the cat's name and say "NO!" when the cat starts to scratch the furniture.

3. If necessary, use a spray bottle of water to spray the cat when it starts to scratch the furniture.

4. Every time the cat uses the scratching post, praise the cat and play with him.

5. Encourage the use of the scratching post by rubbing catnip on it.

6. Discourage scratching of furniture by putting double-sided sticky tape the couch edges where he scratches.

7. Keep the cat's nails trimmed. Your veterinarian can trim the claws or you can try. If you need information on how to trim your cat's claws, see the website:

8. Gradually move the post away from the furniture. Once the cat uses the post regularly, the sticky tape can be removed from the couch.

For more information, go to

In addition, one reader suggested using Cat Scratch Guards, which are clear vinyl covers for the corners of the furniture where cats like to scratch. The reader also suggested that tin foil taped to the corner also works well.