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How to Stop Cats From Scratching & Clawing Leather Furniture: 6 Tips

Written by: Jordyn Alger

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Nicole Cosgrove

cat scratching leather furniture

How to Stop Cats From Scratching & Clawing Leather Furniture: 6 Tips

Of course, you love your cat, but that doesn’t mean you love all of their behaviors–especially the more destructive ones. If your cat has taken a liking to scratching and clawing your leather furniture, you may feel at your wit’s end with their antics.

Thankfully, there are ways that you can stop cats from shredding your furniture. In this article, we will discuss the dos and don’ts of preventing your cat from scratching and clawing furniture with 6 expert tips. We’ll also discuss why cats love to scratch things so much so you can have a better understanding of your cat’s behavior.

What You Need to Know About Why Cats Scratch Furniture

While it may seem like your cat is mischievous or even vindictive by scratching your furniture, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, your cat is engaging in a normal, healthy behavior that should be encouraged. Rather than preventing them from scratching entirely, your goal should be to redirect their attention away from your leather furniture.

As early as 8 weeks of age, your cat will begin to scratch objects. They do it due to instinct, and this action allows them to mark their territory via physical scratches and pheromones. Clawing things also helps your cat sharpen their nails, stretch themselves, and release muscle tension. Emotionally, scratching allows your cat to relieve anxiety and agitation.

Since scratching behavior has many benefits, you should never compel your cat to stop scratching entirely. Below, we will provide six ways you can save your leather furniture while allowing your cat to engage in healthy scratching behaviors.

male domesetic cat scratching furniture with front claws
Image Credit: Melissa Sue, Shutterstock

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The Top 6 Ways to Stop Cats From Scratching & Clawing Leather Furniture

Stopping your cat from scratching your furniture requires time, consistent effort, and patience. However, by following the guidelines below, it is possible for a persistent pet owner.

1. Find A Scratcher for Your Cat

The first and most important step you should take is to find a scratcher for your cat. If you have multiple cats, it is advised that you provide multiple scratchers for them. You can encourage your cat to use the scratcher you have provided instead of clawing your leather furniture.

You can do this by running your nails over the scratcher, demonstrating the interesting sound and texture. This may entice your cat to come and try it out for themselves. Some cats prefer scratchers made with cardboard and others like the texture of sisal rope.

If you need to give them a little extra convincing to try it out, try sprinkling catnip over the scratcher. That should lure your cat in and intrigue them enough to check it out.

2. Be Strategic When Placing Your Cat’s Scratcher

It’s not enough to just put a scratcher in the house. If you want to effectively redirect your cat’s attention away from your leather furniture, you must be strategic about where you place the scratcher.

Placing the scratcher near your cat’s favorite furniture is a good idea. It will redirect their attention away from your leather furniture so they’ll claw the scratcher instead. Similarly, it should be placed where your family spends a lot of time.

Cats are social creatures and prefer to use a scratcher if it is placed close to where the rest of the family hangs out. If you tuck the scratcher into a hidden corner of your home, it is less likely that your cat will be inclined to use it.

cat scratching the wall mounted scratcher
Image Credit: Evgenia Terekhova, Shutterstock

3. Deter Your Cat From the Furniture

In addition to making the scratcher more appealing for your cat, you can make your leather furniture less appealing. You can place double-sided tape on your furniture, which will be a nuisance when your cat tries to scratch.

Similarly, you can spray your furniture with a citrus spray, as cats dislike the smell of citrus. However, you should never spray your cat. This will frighten them and, depending on the ingredients in the spray, potentially harm them.

The key to deterring your cat from the furniture is to make the experience unpleasant, not terrifying or painful. If your cat becomes annoyed whenever they scratch your furniture, they will choose to avoid it.

4. Keep Your Cat’s Nails Trimmed

While this won’t stop your cat’s scratching behaviors, it may minimize the damage to your leather furniture. Placing claw caps on your cat’s nails or keeping them trimmed can prevent claw marks from appearing on the side of your furniture.

close up trimming cat nails
Image Credit: GaiBru-Photo, Shutterstock

5. Provide Plenty of Enrichment for Your Cat

If your cat scratches obsessively, there is a chance that they need more enrichment. Whether agitated or bored, providing your cat with more entertainment opportunities may minimize their desire to dig their claws into your furniture.

Some ideas for enrichment opportunities include cat trees, perches, interactive toys, puzzle feeders, catios, and more. You can also provide entertainment by placing a bird feeder near the window or playing videos of birds on the television.

You should also consider how much time you spend with your cat. Cats need regular attention and affection, so adding playtime to your daily schedule is a great way to stimulate your cat mentally.

6. Consult a Behavioral Specialist

If you have tried everything and more on this list and still cannot stop your cat from tearing up your leather furniture, you may need to consult a behavioral specialist.

Excessive scratching behaviors may be a sign that something is wrong, and a behavioral consultant can help you identify the issue. They may also teach you behavioral modification techniques and provide advice for training your cat effectively.

vet holding cat in the clinic
Image Credit: megaflopp, Shutterstock

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Bad Tactics That You Should Avoid

The tips we’ve listed above will give you plenty of methods to try out, but there are also methods that you should avoid. Below, we will discuss three tactics that should be avoided and why.

1. Declawing Your Cat

Declawing removes the claw and the first toe bone in your cat’s paw. It is a painful, drastic procedure that can cause a build-up of frustration in your cat.

Scratching is a necessary behavior, and when cats cannot fully engage in that behavior, they may become anxious and aggressive. Therefore, declawing is not a reasonable solution to stop your cat from clawing your furniture.

2. Yelling or Punishing Your Cat

While it can be frustrating to see that your cat has damaged your leather furniture, yelling or punishing your cat is never the answer. When a cat is punished for a natural behavior, it confuses them. They can grow afraid of doing normal tasks (such as eating, going potty, and more) and hold off from doing them until you leave.

Additionally, yelling and punishing your cat can make them anxious. The more anxious your cat is, the more they will want to scratch. They may also display fear-based aggression and become distant from you. Harsh correction methods only damage the bond of trust you have built with your pet.

Instead, focus on positive reinforcement to teach your cat appropriate behaviors. Rewarding desired behaviors is much more effective than punishing unwanted behaviors.

3. Physically Forcing Your Cat to Use a Scratcher

When trying to convince your cat to use their new scratcher, you should never physically force them to try it. Cats do not like being grabbed and forced to do anything, so this approach will only make your pet feel threatened.

They will not form positive associations with the scratcher and may even seek to avoid it in the future, thus thwarting your efforts to teach them to use the scratcher.

cat scratching on a cat tree
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Teaching your cat to stop scratching your furniture can be a long process, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. With patience, you can encourage your cat to redirect their attention from your leather furniture to the scratcher you provide.

Focus on methods that make the scratcher look more appealing rather than methods that frighten or harm your cat. A positive redirect will be much more effective in the long term than harsh correction methods, and it may even contribute to a better relationship between you and your cat.

Featured Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

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