Scratch this, not that.

It can be incredibly frustrating when your cat scratches something that you do not want them to. As much as you value those items for your own reasons, there is something about them that your kitty values as well. By looking at your cat’s targets critically, we can strategically offer alternatives. 

Explore the room below to learn more about what makes these items so satisfying to scratch. Offer scratching opportunities that satisfy your cat’s wishlist, then use their motivations to ensure that the new options outcompete old targets. 

A living room that highlights areas that cats might try to scratch, with links to information lower on the page relevant to each area.

Couches

Perks

Sturdy and stable
Large surface area
Vertical surface
Horizontal surface
Comfortable texture
Built in lounge
Socially important
Convenient location

Alternatives

Cat trees should be large enough to provide a height advantage and stable enough to prevent any wobbling or tipping. Consider options with wider scratching surfaces in vertical and horizontal orientations, rather than simple posts. Consider fabric choice, some cats have strong preferences for microfiber or other specific textures. Cat trees with lounge areas are preferred, as cats often scratch after rest. Place near your existing couch to take advantage of its social importance and convenient location.

Walls

Perks

Sturdy and stable
Large surface area
Vertical surface
Convenient location

Alternatives

Location, location, location. Walls are typically not inherently interesting, it is where they are that counts. Place sturdy substitutes in front of scratching sites. Use wall mounted solutions to save space in cramped areas.

Chair and Table Legs

Perks

Sturdy and stable
Allows peek-a-boo play
Vertical surface
Offers covered area

Alternatives

Offer narrow posts that have been stabilized well to prevent tipping. Consider offering your cats their own scratching leg; explore commercially available sisal wraps or check out the second video on our Kitty DIY: Sisal Scratchers Playlist to learn how to make your own. Cat trees with vertical posts as well as hammock or hiding areas further satisfy sneaking needs.

Carpet and rugs

Perks

Sturdy and stable
Horizontal surface
Appealing texture
Convenient location
Special needs access

Alternatives

Carpeted cat trees are just one solution. Offer a carpet scratching buffet using discontinued samples from stores such as RiteRug, or your local flooring supplier. Stabilize samples with grip mats to prevent sliding. Providing variety helps identify the winning texture. Do not limit options to carpet, provide other horizontal substrates, such as cardboard, as well. Consider location; as with walls, the where may be more important than the what.
Cats with health issues may be more comfortable with horizontal scratching and prefer low options like carpet. Schedule a checkup with your vet if you notice your cat slowing down or changing their scratching preferences.

Curtains

Perks

Very tall
Climbing opportunity
Allows peek-a-boo play
New perspective
Vertical surface
Comfortable texture

Alternatives

Height builds confidence, especially in little kitties. Climbing opportunities should be tall enough to provide a significant height advantage and stable enough to prevent any wobbling or tipping. Very tall options may benefit from being directly secured to the wall. Provide an appealing view by placing climbing options by windows, add bird feeders for bonus points. Window seats can also reduce curtain climbing by placing a viewpoint in easy jumping reach, though they may not be enough on their own.

Doors

Perks

Sturdy and stable
Vertical surface
Socially important
Territory boundary

Alternatives

Entryways should be furnished with a variety of scratching options in order to meet territorial needs, the more the merrier. When space is limited, door mounted scratchers provide a suitable scratching alternative. They often require additional securing to prevent wobbling and allow full use.

Feeling overwhelmed?

Finding the right substitute can be challenging, but there are many feline behavior professionals who are more than happy to help you get started. In-home and remote behavior consultations are great options for assessing targets and finding the right solutions for your home environment. Contact us for details on remote consultation services. 

Couch photos:

Help I’ve got kittehs! by sleepingcatbeads via Flickr

Cat tree by christinehawks via Flickr

Funny boys by lisazins via Flickr

Wall photos:

DSC_0078 by twobears2 via Flickr

Chair leg photos:

Blue tackles a chair leg by polandeze via Flickr

‘♥I Love My Scratching Post♥’ by bigshock via Flickr

Gretsch and chairs by anthonychodor via Flickr

Carpet photos:

004 by 29638108@N06 via Flickr

Unpredictable by lisazins via Flickr

P1017392 by stanguy via Flickr

Curious cats by dordrecht-holland via Flickr

Cat shelf by kentwang via Flickr 

Door photos

Old friends by shaondiwakar via Flickr

Background photo FAMILY ROOM PAINTING FINISHED by websterwebfoot via Flickr.