Vet Blog

How to Satisfy Your Cat’s Instinct to Scratch

April 09, 2020

Does your cat seem to have an urge to destroy your home furnishings with vicious scratching?

Cats need to scratch and must have adequate available scratching opportunities to satisfy their impulses. The veterinarians at Animal Care Center of Castle Pines are experts in cat behavior. Although it may seem impossible, you can teach your cat where and what to scratch. If you want to stop your cat from scratching your carpet and furniture, read on to learn more.

Why Do Cats Scratch?

Scratching is a natural instinct and perfectly normal cat behavior. Cats have scent glands in their paw pads, and scratching is one of the ways they mark their territory. All cats need to scratch to maintain the health of their claws, and they need access to a textured surface that they can sink their claws into. Never declaw-this procedure causes lasting health and behavior problems. Cats who have been declawed are less likely to use the litter box and more likely to bite. You can't stop a cat from scratching, but you can encourage appropriate scratching behavior.

Behavior Training

Never scold your cat for scratching. If you catch your cat in the act of destroying the furniture, make a sound that indicates your disapproval. You can clap your hands or shake a jar of pennies and then redirect their attention to an appropriate scratching place. If your feline is a catnip aficionado, try rubbing some catnip on a scratching post to encourage good behavior. You can also try covering inappropriate scratching places with a material that cats definitely do not want to get their paws on-aluminum foil or sticky double-sided tape, for instance.

Location, Location

Placement might be the reason a kitty chooses to scratch certain furniture. Cats usually stretch and scratch to mark their territory when they wake up from a nap, so place a scratching post near your cat's favorite sleeping spot. Cats often scratch when they get excited, like when you arrive home from work. Try placing another scratching post near the front door for when the kitty greets you. More than one scratching post is always best; convenient scratching options will help prevent your cat from destroying your carpet and furniture.

Make it Fun!

Cats need engaging, stimulating play to keep from getting bored. Scratching posts come in many styles-cat scratchers can hang from doorknobs, stand upright, or lie on the floor. What's your feline's scratching style? Some cats like to reach up to scratch, others like to stretch their front paws out and stick their rumps high in the air when they scratch. Your cat might like one type of scratching post better than another or prefer a variety of different scratching options.

DIY Scratching Posts

You don't have to spend a lot of money to satisfy your cat's urge to scratch. Try making your own scratching posts-this could be as simple as wrapping some jute twine around a scrap of wood. If you're handy, you could build a multi-functional scratching board that doubles as a magazine stand (or, more likely, a cat nest). You can even build a cat house out of old cardboard boxes-your kitty will love the new hiding place and enjoy scratching the cardboard to bits. All you will need is some cardboard, a box knife or scissors, and a non-toxic adhesive, like school glue. You can cut out little windows for your cat to peek through or build multiple stories.

Contact Us

Animal Care Center of Castle Pines is here to help if you have concerns about your cat's health or advice on how to stop a cat from scratching furniture. As a certified member of the AAHA, you can depend on us for expert care and advice. We are currently open during our regular hours for emergency services and prescription pick-up, and we are strictly following all AVMA and CDC recommendations. For more information about our COVID-19 protocol, click here. Our phones are busier than usual at this time, so if it's not an emergency please send a message to