Cat Scratching

Helping cats scratch the right stuff

Cat Scratching

Monday, October 12, 2015 | NHS Behavior Department

Scratching is an important part of life for a cat. It allows them to work their muscles, maintain their nails and claim territory, and it helps them feels good. By providing your cat with a few appealing scratching areas, you can help keep your cat happy and prevent unwanted scratching of your furniture. 

Think like a cat when selecting a post. Most cats prefer vertical posts that are big and sturdy so that they can stretch all the way out without it falling over. Horizontal posts are also popular among cats and there are a variety of textures available such as carpet or sisal. Providing a variety of different post types will help you find what appeals to your cat.  

Scratch This ...

  • Entice your cat to use his scratch post by making it fun. Perches to sit on, spaces to climb into and toys mounted on ropes or springs are highly appealing to most cats. Sprinkling a little catnip or some food treats can also encourage your cat to use the scratching post. Avoid trying to show your cat how to scratch by moving his paws up and down on the post. Most cats do not like this and it’s likely to result in a dislike for the post or you.
  • Select a prime location for your post, like close to your cat’s favorite resting spot or in highly used areas of the home are good choices.

... not that

  • Your cat is not scratching your furniture because he’s mad at you or because he’s bad. Furniture is simply a great place to scratch. It’s big, stable and typically in a prime location. If your cat is scratching in the wrong places, help him out by taking note and giving him a better option.
  • Place an enticing scratch post next to the item being scratched and make the old target unattractive. 
  • Double-sided tape, aluminum foil or plastic all seem to deter cats from scratching.


  • Declawing is a surgical procedure that involves cutting off the tip of your cat’s toe bone to remove the claw. This surgery can lead to physical, emotional and behavioral issues that may continue long after the surgery. We advise that declawing be an absolute last resort.
  • Soft Paws® caps are an alternative to declawing while you get your cat’s scratching under control. The caps glue onto your cat’s claws to prevent damage, but your cat can still use his claws like normal.  

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