How do I stop my cat from scratching?

When we talk about “cat scratching” we don’t mean this


What we mean is this


A question we get asked a lot is “how do I stop my cat from scratching?”  We have spoken to many owners over the years who have told us their cats have wrecked sofas, tables, curtains, wallpaper and even window and door frames.  It is a common problem and there could be many reasons for it.

So how do I stop my cat from scratching?

Well, the first thing you should NOT do is stop them from doing it.  Claw scratching is perfectly normal cat behaviour.  They scratch to keep their claws in tip top condition and also to leave a message to other cats.  When it drags its claws down a surface it will leave a smell which is unique to that cat.  The visual sign of scratching, any discarded claw husks and the smell will send a message to other cats.  Basically, they are marking their territory.  Also, cats love to scratch things as it feels good and they get to stretch their legs and muscles.

Another thing you should NOT do is punish your cat.  Whilst it can be frustrating to come home and find your brand new leather sofa scratched to pieces, your cat will not understand.  Shouting at your cat could even make their scratching habit worse. You need to be patient and teach them to scratch other things.

Scratching posts are a great idea.  They have a nice sturdy base so cats will be able to stretch and lean against it without it falling over, the cat will be able to keep it’s nails looking healthy and your house will not be covered in claw marks.  If you have space you could also consider a scratch tree as this will give your cat the opportunity to stretch, scratch, climb and perch.

If your cat is scratching wallpaper or furniture you should cover the scratched surface with thick plastic sheeting to prevent the cat scratching there.  Then place a scratch post directly next to the scratched area.  Whenever your cat uses the post make sure you praise them or you could even leave little treats on it.  In time your cat will learn to use the post rather than your wall or furniture. When this happens you will be able to remove the plastic and move the post to a more convenient place in your home.

What if that doesn’t work?

Under normal circumstances a cat will have one or two places it likes to scratch.  By trying the above you can make sure there are scratching posts available in those areas.  However, if your cat feels anxious or insecure it could scratch various places around the home.  If this happens you may need to look at what could be causing the anxiety and insecurity.

  • Is there more than one cat in the household?
  • Is there a large cat population in your area?
  • Is your cat not getting enough attention?
  • Is your cat under-stimulated?

By working out what’s causing your cats anxieties you can put things in place to ensure it feels more secure in its surroundings so it is less inclined to scratch everywhere.

If you have a serious problem with your cat scratching our vet will be able to talk through the issues and offer help and advice. They may also be able to prescribe something which could calm them down and alleviate some of the anxiety.  In some cases our vet may need to refer the cat to a behavioural specialist who will be able to give your cat a more in-depth review and find the root of the problem.

As we are not behavioural specialists there will be many questions we would not be able to answer. Each cat would have to be seen by the vet and advice would be given on a case by case basis.  However, if you have a general query regarding this subject please call the clinic and someone will be able to help you.  Alternatively, you can leave a post on our Facebook page and someone will respond