Pet Talk

“My Sofa!!!” – Cat Scratching Explained, Plus 3 Tips on How to Minimize it


Cats are territorial animals and scratching is actually one of the ways that cats mark their territory.

Cats, Personal Space & Time Shares 

A cat’s territory consists of a core area, where it feels secure, and an outer region consisting of a network of paths and spaces that are regularly patrolled and marked by the cat. The marking of territory doesn’t always repel other cats and can actually result in territory “time-sharing”, which is essentially like a vacation time share. Marking allows a number of cats to share the resources in a territory without having to compete directly with one another: for example, one cat may occupy a spot in the morning, but leaves it for anther cat in the afternoon.

X Marks the Spot - How Pheromones & Scratching Mark Territory 

The marking of cat territory is all accomplished through glands that secrete a subtle scent called pheromones. Pheromones are essential to cat communication as they allow felines to attract mates, define territories, promote a sense of comfort and to let other cats know who and where they are. One way that a cat marks its territory is by scratching. Some feline scent glands are located on the bottoms of all four paws: so when a cat scratches, they are marking both visually and by scent.

Scratching is a natural feline impulse, which they do whether indoors or outdoors. Cats tend to pick a few different objects like trees, chair legs and scratching posts and return to them often. Scratching in a new location may be prompted by some change to a cat’s environment. Cats are comforted when surrounded by their own sent in a room: that’s why they go around “tearing things up” – literally. As a pet owner, this can be hard on your patience and your wallet, so here’s how you can help curb your kitties urge to scratch.

3 Tips to Reduce Scratching

1. Rub the head and cheek area glands with a dry wash cloth and spread the scent on new furnishings. By essentially marking new furniture for your cat, you may deter it from scratching your new chair or couch.

2. A great strategy is to offer your cat an alternative to scratching your furniture. A stable vertical or horizontal scratching post is a purrfect solution. A note though- never buy a used post. They may carry the markings of another cat and prompt spraying.

3. Already have scratching posts? Fantastic! Here are some good locations to place them:
- Place them by windows, entryways and furniture in positions that raise your feline friend up, and give them good sightlines to as much of their home as possible. 
- Place small horizontal/vertical posts at the top, bottom and/or the turn of your stairs.

While it can be frustrating, just remember that like their wild counterparts, cats in our homes also feel the need to establish their territory. Come by our one of our stores, and one of our pet experts would be happy to talk to you in person about how you can manage your cats scratchy tendencies.


Additional insight courtesy of:
Article: It’s all mine! Cat Marking Explained by Elizabeth Wasserman 2009


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