Why Cats Scratch and how to Manage this Behaviour

Many of us will have experienced our cats scratching things they’re not meant to; carpets, furniture, us! The main reason why cats scratch is to remove the sheath or outer layer of their claws to reveal a new sharper layer underneath; it’s completely normal for them. This behaviour is usually done outside on wooden surfaces such as trees or fence posts as it has the right texture for them to sink their claws in.

We’ve put together the reasons why cats scratch items in the house and things you can do to help manage their behaviour in your home so it’s not destroying your belongings.


cat scratching a chair

This is more commonly seen in indoor cats as they have no access to outdoor space but still need to perform their natural instinctive behaviour. If they don’t have anything provided for them, they’ll find alternative items to use to maintain their claws such as sofas or carpets.


The best thing to do is to provide them with plenty of places to sharpen their claws such as scratching posts; this is essential if you have an indoor cat. Place it in front of the area they have previously used to scratch and encourage them to use it by attaching a feather or toy to the top. If you find them scratching elsewhere in the house, simply bring them back to the new post.


Curiosity or Enjoyment

white cat with scratching post

Some cats find enjoyment or fascination with patterned wallpaper or soft furnishings, particularly if there is something that they can grab onto such as a loose part of paper or thread. This can be thoroughly enjoyable for them to pull, which inevitably leads to some destroyed decor.


If wallpaper is something your cat has a fascination with, then it may be due to a raised pattern or texture. When you decorate it is worth considering changing the type of paper you use to one with less texture, or painting the wall instead. 
Giving your cat more attention can also help prevent this variety of scratching. If you play with them regularly and throughout the day then they will be less likely to want to take a swipe at your furnishings.



fluffy cat using scratching post

You may find that your cat scratches more when other felines are present or in the vicinity. Although the exact reason has not been proven, it is believed that this is to communicate with other cats and leave their scent, essentially marking their territory.


Your cat will want to top up the scent as it wears off in order to maintain their territory. Cleaning the area with washing powder will remove the scent and they’ll be less like to return. Keep them away for as long as possible or at least until the area is dry.



white cat looking over chair

When they feel vulnerable, some cats will rub their scent on specific areas of a room to make them feel more secure in their surroundings. If this is the reason your cat is scratching you will notice that there is a strategy to the places they have chosen, such as arms of chairs that are close to the doorway.


You will need to first identify what the trigger is for them feeling insecure in the home; observe their behaviour with other cats in your house or residential area. If you have a cat flap that allows strange or unfamiliar felines into your home it is worth changing to one that reads your cats microchip so you know who’s coming in or out or letting them in and out yourself so you can monitor this.

It may also be that changes inside your home are the cause of them feeling insecure. If you’re redecorating a room, keep your cat out until the new smells have had a chance to integrate with the existing scent of your home. Another tip is to use a soft cloth to wipe around your cat’s face, mainly the cheeks and then dab this cloth on new furnishings so it smells more familiar to them.

Have you tried any of the methods mentioned in this blog? Do you have your own tips on how to prevent your cat from scratching items in the home? Get in touch with us over on our Facebook page or tweet us @AATU_1