Ask the AKC Animal Behaviorist - Help! My Cat Is Scratching Up All the Furniture!

More on PawNation: cat scratchers, cat scratching, CatScratchers, CatScratching, declawing

cat scratching picture
When a scratching post isn't enough. Credit: Alamy

Meet Mary Burch, American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Director, and Paw Nation's expert columnist addressing your questions on animal behavior. Dr. Burch has over 25 years of experience working with animals and is one of fewer than 50 Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists based in the United States. She is the author of 10 books, including the new official book on the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program, "Citizen Canine: 10 Essential Skills Every Well-Mannered Dog Should Know." As an animal behaviorist, Dr. Burch is happy to answer your questions about cats and dogs.

I adopted an adult cat recently, and she's using my entire living room as a scratching post. She's made her mark on every sofa and chair I have. I've bought several scratchers – tall ones she can climb, short ones at floor level -- but she prefers to destroy my furniture! I adore her and am committed for the long-haul, but I do want to keep my living room intact. Help!

How frustrating! I'm glad that you 're willing to be patient while coming up with a good solution for your new roommate. To deal with what's going on in your home, it may help you to better understand what's behind your feline's behavior and then evaluate various options to try.

1. Why Cats Scratch
Giving their claws a workout is about more than you may think. Cats scratch to:

-- Exercise. It feels good when they reach up to scratch.
-- Relax. The kneading motion is soothing.
-- File their nails. This is the most typical reason for scratching as it removes old layers of the nails.
-- Mark their territory. Cats have scent glands between their paws that release scent on the furniture. (This may be particularly appealing to your cat now that she's in a new home.)

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