Cats don’t realize that scratching causes damage to your possessions – they’re just doing what comes naturally. Cats scratch for many different reasons. The most important is to leave both visual and scent marks around their environment. Claw maintenance, stretching, and to play are other reasons.

The most effective way to stop your cat from scratching your furniture and other belongings is to give her something to scratch that meets her behavioral needs for scratching in the same way the ‘off-limit’ items do.

It’s pretty much a losing battle trying to scold or punish your cat for the behavior. After all, scratching is normal and necessary behavior for cats. They can’t stop scratching anymore than they can stop breathing.

The trick is not to stop your cat from scratching, but to get her to scratch where you want. There are also things you can do to discourage her from using your household furnishings by making them less attractive to scratch. For some great ideas on how to provide these scratching surfaces and prevent destructiveness problems, see our program Helping Kitty Be Good.

Declawing cats is done much less often than in the past and is discouraged by many due to ethical concerns about the procedure and its effect on the welfare of cats.  We believe scratching problems can most often be taken care of with the right behavioral measures.