How to Stop a Cat from Scratching a Leather Sofa

Three Parts:Selecting a Scratching PostStopping Your Cat From Scratching Your Leather SofaEncouraging Use of the Scratching Post

Are you at your wit’s end because your cat is scratching your leather sofa? Does your cat not seem to realize or care that her scratching behavior is ruining your furniture? If so, then it’s time for your cat to find somewhere else to scratch. She will not do this on her own, so you will need to learn how to re-direct her scratching behavior in a way that will make both you and her happy.

Part 1
Selecting a Scratching Post

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    Learn about scratching posts. There are different types of materials that cats like to scratch on, including corrugated cardboard, carpeted surfaces, and sisal (a type of rug). Scratching posts can be oriented vertically or horizontally, but cats tend to prefer vertical posts.[1] Scratching posts can also come in different shapes and sizes.[2]
    • Sisal is a very popular scratching material with cats.[3] Sisal can be found at your local rug store; you could also contact your veterinarian or local pet store to see where it can be purchased.
    • Scratching posts are a good way for cats to stretch their muscles. Although cats tend to prefer vertical posts, horizontal posts will also allow your cat to get a good stretch when she’s scratching.[4][5][6]
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    Purchase a scratching post. With the wide variety of available scratching posts, purchase several and let your cat choose which ones she prefers.[7] Keep in mind that you and your cat may have very different ideas of the ideal scratching post. Give her the space to make her own decision on what she prefers.[8]
    • If you purchase a vertical scratching post, make sure that it is tall enough (about 2 feet) for your cat to stretch out her entire body when she scratches.[9]
    • Make sure that the scratching post is stable and sturdy. If the vertical post is unsteady and topples over when your cat scratches it, then she will not use that post. If your cat prefers a horizontal scratching post, try to secure it under another piece of furniture so that it stays in place when your cat uses it.[10]
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    Do not throw away the scratching post. Once your cat has been scratching on the post for a while, it will look tattered and extremely worn. Although you’ll want to throw it away at this point, your cat will think that it’s perfectly worn in and just the way she wants it.[11]

Part 2
Stopping Your Cat From Scratching Your Leather Sofa

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    Understand why cats scratch. Cats scratch for a variety of reasons, including marking their territory, stretching their muscles, sharpening their claws, and simply having fun.[12][13] Scratching is something that cats need to do, so do not try to stop your cat from scratching your leather sofa by stopping her scratching behavior completely.
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    Make your sofa an undesirable scratching post. Given that you can’t stop your cat from scratching, you will need to teach her that she shouldn’t use your sofa as a scratching post. There are a number of techniques that can discourage her from scratching your sofa.
    • Place an orange peel near the sofa. Cats do not like the smell of citrus.[14]
    • Soak some cotton balls in smells that are unpleasant to cats (eg, cologne, perfume, or a menthol-scented muscle rub) and place them near the sofa.[15]
    • Attach materials to your sofa that make it difficult for your cat to scratch, such as aluminum foil, double-sided tape, and sandpaper.[16]
    • Spray her with water (just a few spritzes) when you see her scratching your sofa. This may temporarily discourage her from scratching your sofa, but it’s likely that your cat will just learn to scratch when you are not around. This technique will not be effective in the long term.[17]
    • Spray Feliway on your sofa. Feliway is a spray that contains scents that will keep your cat away from wherever you spray it. You can purchase Feliway at your local pet store.[18]
    • Remove her scent from the sofa. Cats will scratch where they have left their scent, so removing her scent from the sofa will discourage her from scratching on it. Visit your local pet store to purchase an odor-removal spray.[19]
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    Leave the undesirable items in place. It could take anywhere from several weeks to several months for your cat to stop trying to scratch your sofa. As your cat begins to avoid your sofa more and more, remove one undesirable item at a time. By the time you finish removing them, your cat will have learned to stop scratching your sofa.[20]
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    Do not physically punish your cat. Although you are probably very frustrated with your cat scratching your sofa, physically punishing her will not solve the problem. In fact, it could make things worse because she will probably begin to perceive you in a negative light. A spritz or two of water is the most that you should do to punish her, but remember that this is not a long-term solution.[21]

Part 3
Encouraging Use of the Scratching Post

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    Position the scratching post. It is important to put the scratching post where your cat will be most likely to use it. Preferably, place the post where she typically scratches; given that she’s scratching your leather sofa, try placing the post by the sofa.[22]
    • It is also helpful to place the post in places where she normally frequents, such as her sleeping area or a particular window. If you put the scratching post in a corner or a place where she doesn’t normally go, it’s unlikely that she’ll use it.[23]
    • Cats often like to scratch when they first wake up, so having the post near her sleeping area will encourage her to scratch on the post.[24]
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    Re-direct your cat. This means that, when your cat is scratching your sofa, you will physically pick her up and move her to one of her scratching posts.[25] It may take time for her to understand why you are moving her, and she may not necessarily start scratching on the post when you move her. However, if she does start scratching on her post, reward her with a treat.[26]
    • By using positive reinforcement, she will be encouraged to use the scratching post instead of the sofa.
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    Make the scratching post look and smell appealing. Sprinkling catnip leaves or powder onto the scratching post will encourage your cat to scratch on it. You can also try attaching one of her favorite toys to the post. When she plays with her toy, she will probably end up scratching the post, which will be a pleasurable experience for her.[27]
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    Feed and play with her by her post. A good way to encourage your cat to use her scratching post is for you to spend time with her near the post. The more positive associations she has with the post, the more likely she will scratch on it.[28]
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    Do not “teach” her how to scratch. It may be tempting for you to physically move her paws to get her to scratch on the scratching post. Your cat will not appreciate you doing this, since she already knows how to scratch. Although you are trying to get her to stop scratching your sofa, you will still need to give her the space to scratch on her own.[29]
    • However, there is an argument for placing her front paws against the scratching post since this helps to transfer some of her scent, from scent glands on the back of the paws, onto the post, which makes it more appealing for her to return to.


  • Accept that your cat will always want to scratch. You do not want to deprive her of an activity that she enjoys and is actually good for her.
  • If possible, start re-directing her scratching behavior when she is young. It will be easier to correct your cat’s behavior when she is young rather than when she is older.[30] If you do have an older cat, you’ll just need to allow more time for her to learn to scratch in the appropriate place.
  • You can also trim your cats claws. Keep in mind that this will not keep her from scratching your sofa; it will just minimize the damage of her scratching.
  • There are products, such as Soft Paws, that can be used to cover your cat’s claws. Once again, this will ensure that your cat does not do too much damage when she scratches. This could be a reasonable alternative if you do not have time to teach your cat to use a scratching post.[31]


  • Do not have your cat declawed. This cannot be emphasized enough! The declawing procedure is very painful for your cat and can have serious consequences. If done improperly, declawing will damage the tendons in your cat’s paws, which could affect her ability to walk properly. In addition, declawing may make your cat less likely to use the litter box and maybe even more likely to bite.[32] If your frustration has you considering getting your cat declawed, talk with your veterinarian to discuss other alternatives.

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Categories: Cat Training