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10 Natural Home Remedies to Stop a Cat from Scratching & Clawing

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on February 8, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

tabby cat claws

10 Natural Home Remedies to Stop a Cat from Scratching & Clawing

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REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

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The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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A scratching and clawing cat is both annoying and destructive. Cats can easily ruin curtains, furniture, and even rugs if the behavior is allowed to continue. However, many pet owners aren’t sure what to do about the behavior and resort to yelling and scolding the cat, which is not only ineffective, it can make your cat afraid and change its behavior toward you.

We’ve racked our brains and scoured the internet for as many natural home remedies you can use to stop a cat from scratching and clawing as we could find, and we are going to present them to you here. Join us while we discuss the reasons why your cat scratches and the many ways you can try to prevent it from ruining your home.

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The 10 Natural Home Remedies for Cat Scratching

Here are the different remedies and techniques you can use to prevent your pet from scratching and clawing.

1. Trim Claws

Trimming your pet’s claws is a great first step in curbing your cat’s desire to scratch and claw. Cut nails are not as sharp and will not do as much damage. The shorter nails may also reduce your cat’s need to file them down and sharpen them on your furniture and carpet. Trimming the nails is easy, and they make a special cat nail clipper for the job. However, there are blood vessels in the nails, so you don’t want to cut them too short, or it can cause pain and even draw blood.

If you’re not sure how to trim the nails, we recommend watching some YouTube tutorials or making an appointment with a professional groomer so they can teach you.

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Stopping your cat from scratching can be tricky, but keeping their nails trimmed can help. Hepper's Cat Nail Clipper Set can make it easier, with sharp stainless steel blades for precision clipping and ergonomic, non-slip handles. The built-in safety guard and locking switch will keep you and your cat safe, and the two different sizes of clippers will allow you to handle any size or angle of nails. 

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2. Scratching Post or Scratcher

ginger-cat-paws-and-claws-scratching-carpet_Maliflower73_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Maliflower73, Shutterstock

With your cat’s nails trimmed, the next best way to prevent damage to your furniture and carpet is to supply them with something else to scratch. A scratching post in its many variations is the ideal solution, and it eliminates damage once you convince the cat to use it. If your cat likes to claw furniture and curtains, the traditional scratching post will probably work best for you. If your cat likes to scratch the carpet, you will likely need one that lies flat on the floor.

Scratching posts come in all shapes and sizes and use different materials to create the scratching area. If your cat doesn’t like the one you buy, try a different type. The more, the merrier, as a rule of thumb when it comes to scratching posts. Cats also take a long time to warm up to new things. So, don’t get frustrated if they ignore it for a while when you bring it home.

One of our preferred scratchers, the Hepper Hi-Lo Modern Cat Scratcher, is a surefire way to keep your kitty out of trouble (or at least away from scratching the things they should not!). It's not only stylish, but it's functional as well. It's made of sturdy cardboard with a durable plywood and metal frame and can be set up in three different ways – high, low, or lower. The different positions encourage maximum engagement, exercise and stretching, and of course, intense scratching (they can throw their whole body into it). 

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With the Hepper Hi-Lo, your cat gets to have a blast scratching like a maniac, and you don't have to worry about them causing so much chaos or scratching your stuff. There are even replacement cardboard pieces available, so you really can let your cat go to town on this, and know that it will be long lasting. Click here to learn more about this awesome scratcher.

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest, so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!


3. Double-Sided Sticky Tape

hand sticked to a roll of double-sided tape
Image Credit by: Ekaterina43, Shutterstock

Double-sided sticky tape is a fantastic deterrent, as cats don’t like to put their paws on anything sticky. To use this method, tape any areas where your cat likes to scratch, and once your cat notices it’s sticky, they will leave it alone.

The downside to double-sided sticky tape is that you will stick to it as well, so it’s not going to work on items you need to use. It can also look unsightly if placed on curtains, etc., so you may need to limit this remedy to hidden areas of the home.


4. Spray – Water

Many times, the simplest solutions work the best. One of the most effective deterrents that we have used is also the easiest to create. You make this deterrent by filling up a spray bottle with clean water. When you see your cat misbehaving, give them a little squirt with the water.  Most cats hate water and will quickly run away when you squirt them.

The downside to this method is that your cat may associate you with the spraying, which can affect their opinion of you. Your cat may also simply wait until you are not around to continue misbehaving.


5. Spray – Water and Apple Cider Vinegar

apple cider vinegar spray
Image Credit by: ThamKC, Shutterstock

Another spray you can use combines equal parts clean apple cider vinegar and water. Unlike the water spray, you will not apply this solution directly to the cat and will apply to areas you want the cats to avoid instead. Cats don’t like the smell of apple cider vinegar and will avoid it if they can.


6. Spray – Citrus

The third type of spray we are going to tell you about is a citrus spray. To create a citrus spray, get a few lemons or oranges, and remove the peels. Put the peels in a pot of water and simmer for 30 minutes. Allow the solution to cool and pour through a fine strainer to remove any sediment. Pour the remaining liquid into a spray bottle and use it like the apple cider solution above. Spray it where you don’t want your cat to scratch.

Cats like citrus smell even less than they like apple cider vinegar and will avoid it when possible. The downside to citrus is that it also acts as a strong cleaner, which means it may cause discoloration where you spray it. Many people like to use essential oils like lemongrass and eucalyptus, which may work well, but essential oils can be harmful to cats, so we recommend avoiding them when possible.


7. Cover With Aluminum

If you can’t deter your cat from the area, you can try to protect your furniture and rug covering it with aluminum foil, cats do not like the feeling of it.


8. Use Plastic Protectors

Another option is to protect your furniture and rug with plastic covers. Plastic covers are much easier to keep in place than aluminum, they cover the whole chair, and they work well.


9. Limit Access

cat looking through lattice
Image Credit by: Largoforte, Shutterstock

If none of the above methods work for you, you may need to limit access to the room where they are scratching. If you can’t shut off the room completely, you can put boxes or other obstacles in the way to prevent their access.


10.  Gently Scold

When you notice your cat going to scratch, you can gently scold them by saying NO sharply or making a hissing noise similar to the one they make. For this technique to work you must catch the cat either when about to scratch or during scratching. Your cat will not understand your fuss if you do it any other time.  Because scratching is so self-soothing for the cat, the catching it “on the act”  method has to be done at least the majority of the times the cat attempts to scratch. So, if you are not around the home most of the time when your cat scratches, it is better to try one of the other methods on the list and leave this for that Sunday you plan to stay at home all day.

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No Luck? Try These Other Options

If you have tried all the options above and still have not seen results, you might want to try one of these commercial methods.

Ultrasonic noise

Ultrasonic noise devices put out a loud whistle that is too high for humans to hear but well within the range of a cat. It’s very similar to the way a dog whistle works, but this tool uses electronics to create the sound. The advantage of an electronic device is that some are motion-sensitive or sound off when something gets too close.  You can place these devices near where your cat likes to scratch, and it will either go off automatically, or you can set it off by remote control.

When using an ultrasonic device, it’s important to make sure they are not too loud that they can damage the cat’s hearing. It can also scare them and change their behavior for the worse if you are not careful.


Pheromones

Pheromones is another product you can purchase that contains a synthetic copy of the natural chemical signals created by cats. You can use pheromones to calm your cats, prevent them from fighting, and to curb their scratching and clawing. The odor they release is undetectable to humans, and you usually plug them into the wall like an air freshener, but you can also purchase them in a spray bottle.

Unfortunately, like catnip, not all cats will respond to pheromones, and those that do don’t all react the same way.


Soft Paws

Soft paws are a unique item that goes over your cat’s nails to prevent them from scratching. This product is like acrylic nails, and it attaches with glue. The nails and glue are non-toxic and fall off in three to four weeks. The primary difficulty when using Soft Paws is that it’s challenging to get the cat to sit long enough for you to apply them. Especially if it’s not the first time and the cat doesn’t like them.


Declawing

If your cat is bad, and you have tried everything with no results, you may need to have your cat declawed. While declawing your cat was popular several years ago, these days, it’s not in favor due to overwhelming evidence that it can harm the cat and cause long term health issues like arthritis. It also removes their natural defenses and leaves them open to certain dangers, especially if they like to go outside.

We recommend giving a considerable amount of thought to the pros and cons of declawing and the health risks to your cat before committing to the procedure. You will also want to check local laws because declawing is now illegal in some areas.

Catster does not support declawing. Instead, try every other method presented here or consult with a specialized animal behaviorist for specific case study and advice on how to deal with your cat’s undesired behavior. As a last resource, you can also give the PetSafe Motion-Activated Cat Spray a try.

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Stop Cat Scratching

While no one can really tell what a cat is thinking or know for sure why a cat does the things it does, we can guess through careful observation. When a cat scratches, it seems like a form of stretching and possibly exercise. Cats often scratch with their arms outstretched, shoulders down and but in the air. If they scratch a chair or curtain, the form is the same, only more vertical.

The act of scratching cleans and sharpens their claws. It also works all the muscles in their paws, arms, shoulders, and back. They also release a scent through their paws that we can’t smell, but other animals can. Therefore, scratching is likely a way that a cat marks its territory. Studies show that cats without defined boundaries show signs of stress. It’s likely that cats instinctively mark their territory because they are carnivorous and need to protect their hunting grounds from other cats to protect their food supply. It’s also possible that the scent marks their “home” where they feel the most comfortable.

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Summary

We recommend purchasing several scratching posts for your cat and placing them around the home wherever your cats like to scratch. You can never have too many posts, and it allows them to clean, stretch, and exercise without causing damage to your home or furniture. It may take a while to train them to use it, so in the meantime, we recommend whatever natural home remedies work the best.

By placing the new scratching post or scratching surface near or on top of the places the cat already scratches, and by offering a treat the first time the cat scratches the post or scratcher directly and ignores your sofa or carpet, you will be able to naturally transfer the behavior in no time. Randomly give praise to your cat when you see it using its scratchers and use one of the sprays or a clear “NO!” if you catch it scratching the old place again. Then, over time, you should be able to see more of what you want and less of what you don’t want, because cats are clever! Just do not ever give a treat if the cat has started scratching in the old place and then goes to the post, because the cat might think it is the whole sequence he is getting a treat for. In this case, just use some praise when he is where he is supposed to and save the treats to those occasions when the cat goes directly to the scratching post.

We hope you have enjoyed reading, and we have given you a few new ideas to try out. If we have helped deter your cats from ruining your furniture and rugs, please share this guide to natural home remedies to stop a cat from scratching on Facebook and Twitter.

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Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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