A few simple tricks—and an understanding of why she scratches in the first place!—can help you coexist.

Everyone loves cats. Their little triangular noses, delicate whiskers, and toe beans make them irresistible … but their tendency to scratch your furniture is much less cute. And while scratching is a natural cat behavior you shouldn't discourage through harsh scoldings or declawing, you don't have to resign yourself to a fate of ripped-up upholstery. There are several ways to redirect your feline friend's destructive tendencies, starting with having an understanding of why she does it in the first place.

cat scratching post
Credit: Aleksandr Severinov / EyeEm / Getty

First, Understand Why Your Cat Scratches

Vets and pet health experts say that cats tend to flex their claws for a few reasons (not just to shred your couch!). Here is why your cat might be clawing the furniture:

  • It's a form of exercise and stretching. It just feels good!
  • It's mentally stimulating and can reduce stress.
  • It keeps her nails sharp.
  • It marks her territory, thanks to scent glands in her paws.

The key for saving your furniture is to redirect your cat to scratch-appropriate places.

1. Cover Up

If your cat has a love affair with a certain ottoman that's bordering on abusive, an easy way to keep her paws off is to simply cover the spot in an old blanket or towel. That way, if she scratches, the blanket takes the brunt of it.

If you can't use a blanket, try wrapping foil or sticky tape on the surface you're trying to protect.

2. Keep Her Away With Spray

Buy a cat-safe spray, give your furniture a good misting, and see if it keeps your feline away.

3. Give Her Other Places to Scratch

Place a cat scratcher (or two) next to her favorite place to shred. She should have multiple places at home to stretch and sharpen her claws.

It might take some experimenting to see what your cat likes to scratch. Scratchers can be horizontal, vertical, or slanted and made from many different materials. It might take some time to find one your kitty falls in love with.

4. Keep Her Busy

Because she might be scratching for mental stimulation, saving your furniture might be as easy as giving her toys. Interactive cat toys will keep her busy and entertained, and daily playtime with her favorite human (that's you!) will help even more.

5. Trim Her Nails

As you're teaching her what not to scratch, keeping her nails clipped short will reduce any decor damage.

6. Stay Pawsitive

Always use positive reinforcement with your kitty, and never yell or spray her with water. Sprinkle catnip onto her scratchers and cat trees so she'll be encouraged to scratch on them—and not your newest IKEA purchase.