Researchers investigate why cats scratch furniture 

why cats scratch furniture
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An international team of researchers has investigated which factors influence undesired scratching behaviour in domestic cats.

The researchers asked more than 1200 cat owners in France about the daily lives and characteristics as well as undesired scratching behaviours of their feline companions, publishing their findings in Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

The researchers found there are several factors that influence cats’ scratching behaviour.

“We see a clear link between certain environmental and behavioural factors and increased scratching behaviour in cats,” said Dr Yasemin Salgirli Demi̇rbas at Ankara University and first author of the study. 

“Specifically, the presence of children in the home as well as high levels of play and nocturnal activity significantly contribute to increased scratching. Cats described as aggressive or disruptive also exhibited higher levels of scratching.”

Stress, the researchers said, was found to be a leading reason for unwanted scratching. For example, the presence of children, particularly while they are small, might amplify stress and be one of several causes that can make felines stress-scratch.

While some factors that favour scratching—such as the cat’s personality or the presence of children—cannot be changed, others can, the researchers said. Placing scratch posts in areas the cat frequently passes or near to their preferred resting spot, or the use of pheromones, for example, can lessen cats’ scratching on furniture.

“Providing safe hiding places, elevated observation spots, and ample play opportunities can also help alleviate stress and engage the cat in more constructive activities,” Dr Demirbas said.

The key is to establish multiple short play sessions that mimic successful hunting scenarios. These play sessions are more likely to sustain cats’ interest and reduce stress, which ultimately can reduce excessive scratching on furniture. 

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