How to stop cats from scratching your furniture

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Many cat owners know the frustration of finding torn cushions, carpets, and couches due to their cats’ scratching.

While scratching is a natural behavior for cats, it can often be seen as a problem by their owners. This has sometimes led to solutions that are not very friendly to cats.

A group of international researchers has studied what influences unwanted scratching behavior in house cats.

Their findings were published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

Dr. Yasemin Salgirli Demirbas, a veterinary researcher at Ankara University and the study’s lead author, said, “We found that factors like having children at home, the cat’s personality, and their activity levels greatly affect how much they scratch.”

This research can help cat owners manage and redirect scratching to appropriate places, creating a better living environment for both cats and their owners.

Kids, Play, and Personality

The researchers surveyed over 1,200 cat owners in France about their cats’ daily lives, characteristics, and unwanted scratching behaviors.

They found that several factors influence cats’ scratching behavior.

Dr. Salgirli Demirbas explained, “There is a clear link between certain environmental and behavioral factors and increased scratching behavior in cats.”

Specifically, having children in the home and high levels of play and nighttime activity contribute to more scratching. Cats described as aggressive or disruptive also scratched more.

Stress was found to be a major reason for unwanted scratching. For example, small children might increase stress for cats, leading to more scratching. The exact link between children and increased scratching isn’t fully understood yet and needs more study. Playfulness can also be connected to stress. Long play sessions can raise cats’ stress levels due to continuous stimulation.

Cat-Friendly Scratching Solutions

While some factors like a cat’s personality or the presence of children can’t be changed, others can be managed. The researchers suggest placing scratch posts in areas the cat often goes to or near their favorite resting spots. Using pheromones can also reduce furniture scratching.

“Providing safe hiding places, elevated spots to observe from, and plenty of play opportunities can help reduce stress and keep the cat busy with more constructive activities,” Dr. Salgirli Demirbas said.

The key is to have multiple short play sessions that mimic hunting scenarios. These sessions are more likely to keep the cat interested and reduce stress, ultimately lowering the amount of furniture scratching. They can also strengthen the bond between cats and their owners.

“By understanding the emotional reasons behind scratching, like frustration, which are linked to personality and environment, caregivers can address these issues directly,” Dr. Salgirli Demirbas said.

While the study relied on self-reported data, which can be subjective, it provided valuable insights into cats’ scratching behavior. The goal of this and future research is to develop better strategies to manage this behavior, enhancing the bond and harmony between cats and their owners.