Cat scratching her claws on a chair.

Destructive Scratching

Scratching comes naturally to cats, which use this behavior to keep their retractable claws manicured and to mark their territories. As a result, scratching, though it might become destructive and annoying, should be viewed as a perfectly natural behavior.

If your cat is engaged in destructive scratching, you haven’t satisfied a basic need. A scratching post is a required tool for anyone who owns a cat. In fact, it is preferable to train a cat on a scratching post right from the start instead of bringing one in to offset problem scratching activity.

If your cat seems to fancy one or more particular pieces of furniture in your home, see if you can catch it in the act. If you do, use a blast of water or compressed air from a sprayer or canister to reprimand it, then leave the sprayer or canister sitting beside or on top of the piece of furniture for several days.

Most cats will avoid that piece of furniture like the plague from that point on. Some persons recommend commercial cat repellents or vinegar be used on furniture to discourage scratching, but these can be messy and could stain your furniture.

For that feline that seems refractory to punishment, try placing the scratching post near its favorite piece of furniture and allow it to make a choice. Make the scratching post as plush and tempting as possible. Catnip attached to the post can help lure a reluctant cat to its new scratching post. Be sure to reward your cat for making the switch.

Special nail covers are available through veterinarians and pet stores and can be applied to the nails of your cat to prevent scratching. Surgical removal of its front claws can also be considered to spare your house from total destruction.