Fun, Lifestyle, and Behavior

Why Do Cats Scratch? + Tips On How To Stop It

Whether you’ve recently become a cat guardian or you’ve had cats for a long time, you probably know that cats like to scratch things, especially furniture, carpets, and even around their water bowls, food bowls, and litter boxes. 

But why do cats scratch? More specifically, why do cats need to scratch things? We’ll answer these questions in this article and many more. 

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Why do cats scratch furniture? 

Cats scratch your furniture, carpet, or the floor for several reasons. They can do it as a part of their grooming ritual, they can do it to keep their joints, muscles, and tendons in top shape, or they can simply mark their territory with this behavior.

You might say that your feline friend doesn’t have to mark his or her territory, especially if your pet lives only indoors and there’s no other cat in that environment. Unfortunately, this behavior is not going to stop anytime soon — wild and domestic cats do it just the same. 

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Plus, there is a practical reason why cats need to scratch things, and it’s that this way, they make their claws sharper. They can handle potential aggressors a lot better if they are better equipped with tiny little daggers, right?

When it comes to marking their territory, you might want to know that cats’ paws have scent glands that leave an odor each time they are pressed on. As humans, we are incapable of smelling that scent, but other cats can. 

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Cats also scratch when they are happy, frustrated, or excited. 

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How can you combat this?

If your feline friend has gotten into a habit of scratching a specific part of your furniture, you might be wondering how you can circumvent this. Well, how to train cats not to scratch furniture? 

Unfortunately, there isn’t an effective way of teaching your cat not to do this, especially if she has already marked that territory. However, you can get a scratch pad for cats and attach it to that specific place. There are lots of models available, many of which can be fastened to your couch, for instance. 

A scratch post for cats can also come with catnip, and that will definitely make your cat delighted and convince her that the pad is the best place to practice sharpening her claws at. 

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Why do cats scratch the floor?

My own feline buddy does this, but I have noticed that it happens more frequently right after she ‘goes to the bathroom’. Some cats prefer to cover up their urine or feces as best as possible so that other cats or predators don’t find out their whereabouts. 

If your cat tends to do this around the litter box, you could get a scratchy mat, so that she doesn’t have to scratch the bare floor.  

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How to get cats to not scratch furniture

As I have mentioned, this can be quite a tricky endeavor. You can use scratch posts to convince your cat to do this in a different place, but you can also use the best no scratch spray for cats that you can afford. 

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In a nutshell, this is a product that contains substances that cats don’t like, so they begin to avoid the surface you’ve applied it to. Just make sure that you pick an all-natural alternative so that your feline friend isn’t exposed to any potentially dangerous chemicals. 

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Another tip that we can give you is to regularly clip your cat’s claws. We don’t agree with declawing your cat, as it is completely unnecessary and a rather traumatic experience. But you can clip your cat’s claws now and then. Plus, this will save you some scratches, too! 

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Can cats scratch leather?

Yes, they can, and they will do it if you let them. They also like creating a visible mark for other predators or other cats, so that they know that it’s their place, not theirs. Your cat can scratch anything from your room table, your sofa, your carpets, and pretty much anything else in your home. 

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Why do cats scratch their bodies?

This can happen for several reasons, too. Your cat could be suffering from a type of dermatitis, she could have fleas, or she could have an ear infection. All of these mishaps are usually associated with other clinical signs — not just scratching.

Flea prevention is the best and easiest thing that you can do for your cat, and it prevents a myriad of health problems — from internal parasites to dermatitis

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Why do cats scratch people?

Cats can scratch you when they’re happy, but also when you’ve bothered them with something. It’s not necessarily a sign of aggression. In fact, they can sometimes try to mark their territory or their friends – meaning you. 

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If you’ve ever played with a cat, you probably know that accidents can happen, so she might inadvertently scratch you when in fact, she wanted to get her paws on the toy! 

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Are cat scratches dangerous? It depends on the severity of the scratch. No matter if it’s superficial or deep, you should disinfect it right away. What everyone should know is that cats’ claws have germs and let’s not forget that cats use their claws when they cover up their urine and feces in their litter boxes. 

So, if you are feeling concerned about whether you might develop a skin infection because of a cat scratch, get in touch with a doctor right away. A cat bite, however, is far more serious as cats have a variety of dangerous microorganisms in their mouths, including Staphylococcus spp. 

This post contains affiliate links on some of the images. You can support this blog by trying out the products recommended in this article. 

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Cristina is a licensed veterinarian who has been a cat owner since she was 12. She is passionate about giving useful advice to pet owners across the world. Her favorite topics range from pathology and novel therapies to infectious diseases and animal welfare. Her work has been featured in many online publications from The Pet Friendly House to Alpha Paw, Animal Wellness Magazine, and

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