How to Deter Cats From Scratching the Couch

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A couple of weeks ago, we purchased a new couch. I had high hopes that the cats would not try to scratch it as they have many cardboard scratchers, posts, and cat towers.

My theory was that my cat’s scratching routines and habits were so strong that they would not be interested in the new couch.

But, at least three of of the cats have scratched the couch at least once.

Deterring the cats from scratching the couch steps

The cats have their reasons for wanting to scratch up that new couch!

Since my cats already have many acceptable scratching options, I believe they want the couch to smell like them.

Cats have scent glands in their paws. When the cat scratches something, some of its scent is left behind.

There are a few things you can try to deter your cat from scratching the couch.

Adding additional cat scratchers

Putting cat scratcher boxes and posts near the furniture may help.

I placed my cat’s favorite cardboard scratcher near the back corner of the couch. However, after two weeks, it’s barely been used!

And, I’ve heard at least one cat scratch that back corner of the couch.

It’s not a high-traffic area for the cats (best placement for cat scratchers usually). And, the couch still doesn’t smell like my cats, so it’s still alluring to them.

But just because it’s not working for my cats doesn’t mean it will not work for your cats. My sample size is limed to my current indoor cats.

A cat behind a couch.
Nacho behind the new couch

Couch fabric that cats don’t like

I don’t believe there is a couch fabric that is 100% cat proof from all cats.

But some materials are probably going to be easier to discourage your cats from scratching than others.

We choose a fabric couch that is not tightly woven. It’s VERY easy for the cats to get their claws stuck in the fabric.

In retrospect, we didn’t consider the fabric type much when picking out the couch. A fabric couch was probably not the best choice.

So what is the best couch material for cats? The answer doesn’t seem straightforward.

Some sites recommend leather, while others say it’s a no-go for cats. Microfiber or very tight fabric (can’t see the threads) may be a better choice.

A material they can’t get their claws into at all may be the best such as metal or plastic. However, most people will want a couch that is comfortable for the humans sitting on it.

Sticky tape for deterring cats

We are currently trying out the double-sided sticky tape on the corners of the couch. The idea behind the tape is that it’s super sticky, and the cats will not like how it feels on their paws.

We are using the Cat Training Tape, which you can click here to see on Amazon (there are many reviews and ratings).

Polarduck Anti Cat Scratch Tape, 4 inches x 30 Yards Cat Training Tape, 100% Transparent Clear Double Sided Cat Scratch Deterrent Tape, Furniture Protector for Couch, Carpet, Doors, Pet & Kid Safe

This particular tape was recommended to me by a reader of The Caturday Newsletter. She said it only took a week to discourage her cat from scratching the couch.

I found the tape a bit hard to remove from the backing. It took some patience!

The tape has been placed on the corners of the couch. I will update the post when I see how the cats respond to it.

I have a couple of concerns about the tape. Hopefully, these are fears that will not happen.

  • At least one of my cats likes to lick packaging tape. I am hoping that cat doesn’t try to lick the tape. It’s so sticky; I am afraid it would stick to his tongue.
  • What happens if the tape comes off the couch when the cat attempts to scratch the couch? Could they get tangled up in the tape?

We are home most of the time, so I’m not too concerned about it, and hopefully, the cats will be trained soon, and the tape can be removed.

Training Tap on the corner of the couch. The white piece is removed once stuck to the couch, revealing the sticky side.
The Sticky Tape on the couch. The white backing is remove once it’s in place.

Cover the couch

You can place blankets over the couch to prevent your cat from accessing the couch. There are also couch covers that may work.

You’ll want a fabric that is thick enough that your cat can’t scratch the couch through the cover.

Before I had the sticky tape mentioned above, I placed blankets on the corners of the couch, tucking them underneath the couch.

The problem was when the blanket was moved a bit, the cat used his claws on the couch again.

So unless you always what to keep your couch covered, covering it may not be the ideal long-term solution.

Couch with blankets covering the corner
Couch with blankets covering the corner

Cat deterrent sprays

While researching solutions for preventing the cats from scratching the couch, I saw cat repellent sprays mentioned.

I will NOT be trying a spray. After reading the precautions, for Four Paws Keep Off, I do not feel it’s safe to use in my home.

Also, some of the reviewers say it smells horrible, and I am sensitive to smells. And “Avoid breathing spray mist. Wear goggles or face shield.” was not encouraging.

Plastic furniture shields

There are plastic shields that can be stuck onto your couch. Some of them also require using little tacks or pins to securely attach the shield.

The cat would not get the satisfaction of feeling its claws dig into the couch, but I wonder if it would discourage the cat. After all, they would still be leaving their scent behind.

The shields may need to stay on the couch long-term. On the positive side, they are clear and may not be that noticeable.

You can click here to see an example on Amazon and read through the reviews.


Cats like to scratch appealing surfaces and to make a new surface smell like them.

You may need to deter your cat from scratching up your couch or other furniture.

Training with sticky tape or using another method should help save your couch from the cat!

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Heidi Bender is the writer and founder of the Joy of Cats. She enjoys sharing cat information and providing helpful cat tips. She considers herself a cat lady and currently cares for eight cats.

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