Cat scratch no more

Posted on Jun 24 2024 in Pets

By Natalie Derrickson

Give your favorite feline an outlet for scratching that’s pet parent-approved

A cat’s inclination to scratch might be natural, but when it reduces your favorite pillow to shreds, you’re ready to do anything to put it to a stop.


Without a designated scratching spot, cats will find something suitable to meet their needs, sometimes to the detriment of your decor. Don’t take it personally — cats need to scratch to maintain their claws, communicate with other cats, and stretch their muscles.

“Owners should provide different materials for scratching like twine-wrapped columns, old carpet squares, and cardboard scratchers, as well as both vertical and horizontal surfaces, as individual cat preferences vary,” advised Jami Heying, board president of the Independent Cat Society, a non-profit, no-kill feline shelter serving Northwest Indiana.


Make your new scratching spots attractive by spritzing catnip spray on them. Do your best to stay on target, as a misguided spray might give your cat the wrong idea. Cover furniture and other tempting surfaces with aluminum foil or double-sided tape — the noise and feeling when scratched can help turn cats away. While retraining your cat, apply nail caps to their nails to provide a buffer between their nails and your surfaces.


A bored cat often means a destructive cat, and while cats are seemingly comfortable solo, it doesn’t mean they don’t need stimulation. Provide an enriching environment that keeps your cat busy, making scratching less attractive. Stock your cat’s stash with interactive toys and puzzle feeders, and make sure family members take time to play with them. Outfit their space with cat trees and shelves, which give them a place to perch and observe things from a new vantage point. The climbing action of scaling a cat tree can help feed their need to work their claws, further reducing the risk of unwanted scratching.

Be consistent and patient as your cat learns new behaviors, and use positive reinforcement to redirect their attention toward appropriate scratching surfaces. When you do, your cat will be able to fulfill their natural instincts and you can enjoy a home with less destructive scratching.

NATALIE DERRICKSON is a freelance writer from Indianapolis.