Why is my cat scratching indoors?
If your cat has limited or no access to the outdoors - either through their own choice or yours - they will have to maintain good claw condition inside the house. They will find one or two suitable scratching sites and continue to use them, whether this is a cat scratching post or the back of your settee!
If the scratched areas are widespread throughout your home including areas of conflict like doorways and windows, it is likely the your cat is scratching for communication reasons and feels insecure in these areas. Just like spraying, the most common reason for scratching indoors is the presence of another cat.
The reason for cats to show this behaviour can change over time. If your cat enjoys attention, they might learn that whenever they scratch the furniture you interact with them, so they will carry on scratching.
What can I do if my cat scratches the furniture?
If your cat is scratching furniture or wallpaper to maintain their claws you could:
- Protect the scratched item by covering with thick, shiny, plastic sheeting as this is unappealing to cats
- at the same time, obtain a suitable scratching post and put it next to the area where they scratch
- choose a scratching post with a heavy base so it doesn't topple over or wobble when in use. It should be tall enough to allow your cat to scratch at full stretch - ensure it has a vertical weave to let them drag their claws downwards
- some cats prefer to scratch horizontally (e.g. cats that scratch carpets or stairs) or diagonally so provide a scratching mat to meet these needs
- once your cat is consistently using the new post, you can gradually move it to a more convenient location if you wish and then remove the plastic sheeting from the furniture or wallpaper
- cats often like to scratch and stretch after they wake up, so you could try placing the scratch post near your cat's bed
Scratching to mark territory
if you cat is scratching furniture as a marking behaviour, then try to identify what is worrying the cat in this part of their territory and remedy it. As mentioned above; cover the scratched areas with a protective material and place a scratching post next to them. However, to help your cat feel secure in their surroundings and permanently stop them scratching the furniture, you will need to identify and deal with what is worrying them. Don't just provide them with another scratching surface without attending to their feelings of insecurity. You may need guidance from a suitably qualified behaviourist to help identify the cause of their anxiety.
Importance of praise
It is important to remember that cats do not scratch just to be naughty. It is a natural behaviour they should be allowed to exhibit. Shouting when your cat scratches your furniture can lead to an increase in frequency as they become more anxious, or learns that scratching can be used for attention seeking. Cats quickly learn that unwanted clawing gets a reaction, but clawing a scratching post doesn't. Make sure you praise your cat when they claw the scratching post and try not to react if they scratch the furniture. (Source: Cats Protection)