How to Get Cats to Stop Scratching Walls

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Any cat owner is familiar with the frustration of seeing their walls marred by scratches, detracting from the aesthetic appeal of their home’s interior and often leading to expensive repairs. The sound of claws scraping down a wall can challenge the patience of even the most serene individuals. However, as someone who adores cats, it’s understood that this behavior stems from instinct rather than malice. Scratching fulfills several needs for cats, including maintaining their claws, marking their territory, and relieving stress.

How to Get Cats to Stop Scratching Walls

Hence, it is crucial to tackle this issue with empathy and comprehension, aiming for resolutions that accommodate your cat’s necessities while also protecting the integrity of your living space. This guide is crafted with love and care to help you unearth the secrets behind how to get cats to stop scratching walls, offering practical and positive techniques to redirect your beloved cat’s scratching habits without causing any distress for either of you.

Why Do Cats Scratch?

Instinctual Behavior

Cats scratch surfaces as a part of their natural instinct. This behavior serves several essential purposes in their daily routines and overall well-being. It’s a way for them to stretch their bodies and maintain the health and sharpness of their claws. By understanding this fundamental nature, we can empathize with our feline friends instead of punishing them for acting on instinct.

Territory Marking

Scratching is also a method for cats to mark their territory. The scent glands in their paws leave an olfactory mark on surfaces, which signals to other animals that this space is claimed. This territorial behavior is often more pronounced in homes with multiple pets, where cats feel the need to establish their dominance.

Stress Relief

Just like humans have methods to relieve stress, cats use scratching as a form of stress relief. It’s a physical activity that helps them express emotions, such as excitement, or alleviate feelings of anxiety. Recognizing scratching as a coping mechanism allows us to find alternative ways to help our cats manage their stress positively.

How to Get Cats to Stop Scratching Walls: Tips and Tricks

How to Get Cats to Stop Scratching Walls

Now that we understand why cats scratch, let’s explore some practical tips and tricks on how to redirect their behavior away from your walls. Remember, it’s essential to be patient and consistent while implementing these techniques and always provide alternative scratching options for your cat.

Provide Appropriate Scratching Surfaces

Firstly, it’s absolutely essential to ensure your cat has access to suitable scratching surfaces that meet their instinctual needs. Investing in a variety of scratching posts or pads can make all the difference. Look for ones that are sturdy enough to withstand vigorous use and tall enough for your cat to fully stretch out while they scratch. Textures matter enormously; materials like sisal, carpet, or corrugated cardboard tend to be very appealing to cats. Experiment with different kinds to see what your feline friend prefers.

Position these scratching alternatives strategically around your home, especially in areas where your cat spends a lot of their time or near the places they’ve previously targeted for scratching, like near windows, along commonly traveled paths in the home, or beside their favorite lounging spots. Also, placing a scratching post near their sleeping area can be beneficial as cats often like to stretch and scratch upon waking.

Remember, it’s not just about having the right equipment—you also might need to encourage your cat to use these scratching surfaces. You can do this by sprinkling catnip on the new scratchers or using a dangling toy to lead your cat to discover these new objects. With patience and positive reinforcement, your cat will soon learn to use these surfaces instead of your walls.

Deterrent Methods

If your cat continues to scratch walls despite having appropriate scratching options, there are various deterrent methods that you can try. One popular method is to use double-sided tape or sticky paws on the areas of the wall your cat tends to target. The feeling of sticking to these surfaces will discourage them from scratching there in the future.

Another option is using citrus-based sprays or essential oils, which cats dislike and will avoid scratching near. However, be cautious when using essential oils as some can be toxic to cats. It’s always best to consult with your veterinarian before using any new products around your cat.

Trim Your Cat’s Claws Regularly

Keeping your cat’s claws trimmed is a simple yet effective method to reduce the damage they can do when scratching. Regular trimming makes their claws less sharp, meaning even if they do scratch the walls, the potential for damage is minimized. Not all cats will be comfortable with claw trimming initially, so it’s important to introduce this gently and gradually, pairing the experience with positive reinforcement to make it as stress-free as possible.

Use Soft Paws as an Alternative

Soft Paws (or claw caps) are a non-toxic, safe solution that can be applied to your cat’s claws. These caps prevent cats from causing damage when they scratch by blunting the claw tips. Applying them requires patience and a gentle hand, but once on, they can last for 4-6 weeks. This method allows your cat to engage in their natural scratching behavior without the risk of damaging your walls or furniture.

Increase Playtime and Exercise

Often, cats scratch more when they have excess energy or are bored. Increasing playtime and interactive games can help channel your cat’s energy into more positive outlets. Engage them with toys that mimic hunting behaviors, like feather wands or laser pointers. Regular play sessions not only reduce unwanted scratching but also strengthen the bond between you and your cat.

Provide Vertical Space and Stimulation

Cats naturally enjoy climbing and observing their surroundings from high vantage points. Providing your cat with vertical space, such as cat trees or wall shelves, can significantly enhance their environment and reduce the likelihood of them scratching walls. Additionally, these spaces can serve as appropriate areas for your cat to scratch, exercise, and relax, fulfilling their need for both physical and mental stimulation.

How to Get Cats to Stop Scratching Walls

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool when it comes to changing behavior in cats. When you catch your cat scratching their designated surfaces, reward them with treats or praise to reinforce this positive behavior. Additionally, if you see them starting to scratch the walls, gently redirect them to their scratching post or pad and reward them when they use it.

It’s important not to punish your cat for scratching walls as this can create a negative association with scratching and lead to more destructive behaviors. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement and patience.

Cats are wonderful companions that bring joy and laughter into our lives. With the right understanding, training, and patience, we can help redirect their natural scratching behavior away from our walls and toward more appropriate outlets. Remember to provide suitable scratching surfaces, use deterrent methods if necessary, regularly trim their claws, engage in playtime and exercise, offer vertical space and stimulation, and reinforce positive behaviors with rewards.

Additional Ways to Stop Your Cat from Scratching the Walls

Install a Wall-Mounted Scratcher

An especially clever fix is to fit your home with wall-mounted scratchers. Not only do these smart solutions save precious floor space, but they also allow you to set them at various heights, perfectly matching your cat’s scratching preferences. This flexibility encourages your feline to scratch in appropriate places rather than on walls or furniture. Plus, wall-mounted scratchers are available in a range of materials, including sisal and carpet, offering the textural diversity that your cat naturally seeks. By integrating these into your living space, you provide an attractive and cat-friendly outlet for their scratching instincts.

Enhance Climbing and Exploring Opportunities

Cats possess an innate desire to scale heights and survey their kingdom from above. By introducing new climbing spots or enriching the ones you already have, you offer your feline companion endless opportunities to expend their energy in positive ways. Something as easy as reconfiguring your furniture to craft engaging paths or adding more cat trees and shelving units can transform your home into a captivating playground for your cat. These adjustments not only provide your pet with a richer environment but also help prevent them from turning to the walls as an outlet for their scratching urges, driven by boredom or annoyance.

Prioritize Bonding and Active Play

Occasionally, the root cause behind a cat scratching the walls can be traced back to a desire for more attention or the accumulation of excess energy waiting to be released. By carving out dedicated time each day for interactive play, you can make a notable difference in curbing this behavior. Engage your feline friend with toys designed to emulate prey, like feather wands, balls, or laser pointers, to tap into their natural hunting instincts. This focused playtime does more than just entertain; it deepens the bond between you and your cat, potentially diverting their need to scratch as a means of seeking attention.

Use a Citrus-Based Deterrent

Many cats have an aversion to citrus scents, turning citrus-based deterrents into a gentle yet effective means to discourage scratching in undesired areas. Crafting a homemade citrus spray is a straightforward process; mix water with a few drops of lemon or orange essential oil and lightly mist the areas your cat frequents for scratching. Given that cats’ sensitivities to essential oils vary, it’s crucial to approach this method cautiously, using the spray sparingly and observing your cat closely for any adverse reactions. This natural solution not only keeps your walls and furnishings safe but also ensures your home stays fresh and inviting.

How to Get Cats to Stop Scratching Walls

Tips on Training Your Cat to Scratch Acceptable Objects

To deter our feline friends from scratching walls or furniture and redirect them towards more appropriate outlets, introducing them to acceptable scratching objects is crucial. Commonly preferred objects include scratching posts, pads made from corrugated cardboard, and cat trees infused with sisal or jute. These items can easily be found in pet stores, online marketplaces like Amazon, or even in some supermarkets with a pet section.

Finding the Right Scratching Object

The key to success in redirecting your cat’s scratching habits lies in finding a scratching object that truly appeals to them. Observing your cat’s natural scratching tendencies is crucial; do they tend to reach upwards, stretching their body vertically, or are they more prone to scratch in a horizontal manner? This observation will guide you in choosing the right type of scratching object for your cat. Cats that enjoy a vertical stretch often prefer tall scratching posts that allow them to fully extend their bodies, while cats that scratch horizontally might be better suited to a flat scratching pad or mat.

Additionally, the material of the scratching object plays a significant role in attracting your cat. Many cats have a preference for certain textures such as sisal fabric, corrugated cardboard, or carpeted surfaces. Experimenting with different materials can help you discover your cat’s favorite, thereby making the scratching object more enticing. Remember, the goal is to provide an appealing and satisfying alternative to your walls, so take the time to find the perfect match for your feline friend.

Training Tips

  1. Location: Place the scratching object near where your cat typically rests or plays. Cats often stretch and scratch upon waking up, so having an acceptable object nearby is convenient.
  2. Scent and Texture Attraction: Encourage your cat’s interest through the use of catnip or silver vine. Sprinkling some on the new scratching object can make it irresistibly attractive.
  3. Interactive Play: Use toys to lead your cat to the scratching post during playtime, gently encouraging them to explore and use it.
  4. Make It a Rewarding Experience: Place treats on or near the scratching object to reward your cat’s interaction with it, reinforcing positive behavior.

Persuading Reluctant Cats

Some cats may initially be reluctant to give up their wall-scratching habits. In these cases, patience and positive reinforcement are key. Gradually move a familiar and acceptable object closer to the preferred scratching area and use the tips mentioned above to encourage its use. Persistence and consistent encouragement without force will help in making the transition.

Professional Assistance

While most cats can be guided to use acceptable scratching objects with patience and persistence, there are times when a cat behaviorist’s advice might be needed, especially if the scratching behavior is rooted in anxiety or other behavioral issues. However, many cats can be successfully redirected with the diligent application of the strategies mentioned above, without the need for specialized trainers.

Redirecting scratching behavior is vital in understanding how to get cats to stop scratching walls and ensuring they use appropriate alternatives. With the right approach, your cat can learn to love their new scratching post or pad, leaving your walls and furniture scratch-free.

Addressing Underlying Issues

Understanding the root of your cat’s scratching behavior can be pivotal in providing a long-term solution. Below, we explore ways to address underlying issues that may be contributing to their need to scratch.

Boredom Busters

Cats require both mental and physical stimulation to live happily, and a lack of this can lead to destructive scratching behaviors. To alleviate boredom:

  • Increase playtime with interactive toys and puzzles, which can simulate natural hunting behavior.
  • Encourage climbing and exploration by installing cat trees and shelves.
  • Consider the use of food puzzles and automatic feeders to keep their minds stimulated while eating.

Stress Relief Techniques

Stress or anxiety can often manifest in unwanted scratching. To help your cat manage stress:

  • Identify and address potential stressors, such as loud noises or the introduction of new pets, which might be affecting your cat.
  • Create a calm and predictable environment to soothe your cat’s nerves.
  • Provide hiding spots and vertical spaces for security, offering a safe retreat when they feel anxious.
  • Consider the use of pheromone diffusers for anxiety relief, which can help create a reassuring atmosphere at home.

Medical Checkup

How to Get Cats to Stop Scratching Walls

Sometimes, scratching can be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

  • Rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing discomfort or itchiness, prompting more frequent scratching.
  • Regular vet checkups are crucial for monitoring your cat’s overall health and can preemptively address any behavior that might be health-related.

Enhancing Strategies to Discourage Inappropriate Scratching

While ensuring your cat has attractive alternatives for scratching is fundamental, equally crucial is the approach to delicately discourage undesirable scratching behaviors. Implementing thoughtful strategies can significantly reduce the likelihood of your cat damaging furniture and walls. Here’s how to refine your approach:

Protective Measures for Unsuitable Areas

To safeguard your home and deter your cat from areas that are off-limits, consider these enhanced methods:

  • Apply double-sided tape or plastic sheeting: Cats find sticky or sleek textures unpleasant. Attaching these materials to furniture edges, walls, or carpet corners can act as a deterrent.
  • Innovate with furniture covers: Regularly changing the type of covers used on furniture not only protects them but also prevents your cat from getting too familiar with the texture, potentially viewing it as an alternative scratching surface.

Utilizing Gentle Deterrents

Encourage your cat to stay away from certain areas with non-harsh deterrents, adjusted for effectiveness and kindness:

  • Deploy citrus and vinegar effectively: Place citrus scents or vinegar in strategic locations. Ensure these deterrents are refreshed regularly to maintain their effectiveness and situated in a way that doesn’t create direct discomfort or harm to your cat.
  • Explore cat repellent sprays: There are commercially available or homemade repellent sprays designed to safely deter cats. These sprays can be applied to certain areas and have the added benefit of being easy to apply and adjust based on effectiveness.

Consistent and Positive Redirection

The backbone of changing unwanted behavior is a patient, consistent, and positive approach:

  • Reinforce positive redirection: Always guide your cat gently towards appropriate scratching posts, rewarding them with treats or affection for using them. This positive reinforcement helps associate good feelings with the desired behavior.
  • Understand the ‘No Punishment’ policy: Avoiding punishment is vital. Fear can make your cat more anxious, possibly worsening scratching behaviors. Instead, focus on creating positive outcomes for desired behaviors.

Introducing Diversification and Entertainment

To further discourage inappropriate scratching, consider enriching your cat’s environment:

  • Variety in scratching opportunities: Introduce various types of scratching posts and materials around the house. This diversity can keep your cat engaged and less likely to seek out prohibited areas.
  • Increase playtime and interaction: Engaging with your cat more frequently through play can help use up energy that might otherwise be directed towards unwanted scratching. Interactive toys that simulate hunting can be particularly beneficial.

By integrating these approaches with patience and persistence, you can effectively discourage inappropriate scratching behaviors while promoting a harmonious living environment for you and your cat.

Special Cases: Multi-Cat Households

 Manage Interactions

In a multi-cat household, it’s essential to manage interactions between cats to avoid conflicts and promote positive relationships:

How to Get Cats to Stop Scratching Walls
  1. Provide multiple litter boxes in different locations to prevent resource guarding among cats.
  2. Separate meal times for each cat can encourage independence and reduce competition.
  3. Observe the dynamics between your cats; if one is more dominant, give them space and access to resources.

Additional Scratching Options

In a multi-cat household, it’s crucial to provide sufficient scratching options for all cats:

  1. Consider vertical and horizontal posts to cater to different preferences.
  2. Place multiple scratching options throughout the house in areas where each cat spends most of their time.
  3. Monitor and redirect any territorial scratching to avoid conflicts between cats.

Beyond Scratching Posts: Alternative Solutions

Cardboard Scratchers

Cardboard scratchers are a popular alternative to traditional scratching posts:

  1. The rough texture of cardboard satisfies cats’ natural desire to scratch and can be replaced easily when worn out.
  2. Please place them in high-traffic areas or near furniture your cat tends to scratch.

Scratching Pads

Scratching pads, made from materials like sisal or carpet, also provide a suitable surface for scratching:

  1. They are available in various sizes and can be mounted on walls or placed on the ground.
  2. Some come with additional features, like perches or toys, to make them more enticing for cats.

Scratching Furniture

If your cat tends to gravitate towards furniture, consider investing in specifically designed scratching furniture:

How to Get Cats to Stop Scratching Walls
  1. They come in various shapes and sizes, including cat trees, loungers, and even sofas.
  2. These options offer both a scratching surface and a comfortable resting spot for your cat. 
  3. They are also visually appealing and can blend seamlessly into your home decor.

Sisal Carpets or Mats

For an affordable and customizable option, consider covering areas your cat tends to scratch with sisal carpets or mats:

  1. Sisal is a natural fiber that has a similar texture to scratching posts.
  2. Cut the material to fit specific areas or use it as a runner along furniture edges.

Keeping Up the Good Work: Maintenance and Prevention 

 Maintenance is Key

Once you’ve successfully trained your cat to use appropriate scratching options, it’s important to maintain these good habits:

  1. Regularly check and replace worn-out posts or surfaces to keep them appealing for your cat.
  2. Continue positive reinforcement and rewards when they use their designated areas.
  3. If you introduce new furniture or rearrange the layout of your home, make sure to provide new scratching options in these areas.

Prevention is Better than Correction

Preventing unwanted scratching behaviors is always better than having to correct them:

  1. Start training and providing appropriate scratching options as soon as you bring a new cat or kitten into your home.
  2. Use gentle deterrents on furniture and surfaces from the beginning to discourage habit forming.
  3. Keep an eye on your cat’s behavior and address any territorial or stress-related scratching promptly with appropriate solutions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why Do Cats Scratch Walls?

A: Cats have a natural instinct to scratch surfaces to mark their territory, stretch their muscles, and remove the outer layer of their claws. Walls may be appealing to cats for scratching due to their texture and stability.

Q: How Can I Deter My Cat from Scratching the Walls?

A: There are several methods to deter cats from scratching walls:

  1. Provide appropriate scratching posts or pads made of materials like sisal rope or cardboard. Place these near the areas where your cat tends to scratch.
  2. Use double-sided tape or aluminum foil on the walls where your cat scratches. Cats generally dislike the sticky feeling or sound created by these materials.
  3. Apply a cat-safe deterrent spray on the walls to make them less appealing for scratching.
  4. Trim your cat’s nails regularly to minimize the damage caused by scratching.
  5. Offer enrichment activities and playtime to keep your cat mentally and physically stimulated, reducing the likelihood of excessive scratching.

Q: How Do I Redirect My Cat’s Scratching Behavior to Appropriate Surfaces?

A: Encourage your cat to use scratching posts or pads by:

  1. Placing the posts in areas where your cat spends time or near the walls they tend to scratch.
  2. Using catnip or cat-attractant spray to attract your cat to the scratching posts.
  3. Rewarding your cat with treats or praise when they use the designated scratching surfaces.
  4. Consistently redirecting your cat to the appropriate scratching surfaces whenever you catch them scratching the walls.

Q: Should I Punish My Cat for Scratching the Walls?

A: No, punishment is not recommended as it can lead to stress, fear, and other behavioral issues in cats. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement and providing appropriate outlets for scratching behavior.

Q: My Cat Still Scratches the Walls Despite Trying Various Deterrents. What Else Can I Do?

A: If your cat continues to scratch the walls despite your efforts, consider consulting with a veterinarian or a certified animal behaviorist for personalized advice and solutions. Underlying issues such as stress, anxiety, or medical conditions could contribute to excessive scratching behavior and may require professional intervention.


Scratching is innate and essential for cats, a behavior that fulfills their physical and psychological needs. However, with thoughtful strategies and appropriate interventions, it’s possible to guide this natural instinct in ways that protect your home furnishings. By investing time in teaching your cat where and what to scratch, leveraging a mix of consistency, patience, and the correct scratching solutions, you can develop positive scratching habits. It’s all about reinforcing good behavior with praise and treats, offering a variety of scratching options to cater to their preferences, and tackling any problems as they arise to ensure a happy, scratch-free living environment.

Maintenance and preventative steps are crucial for lasting outcomes, helping you to preserve the harmony between your cat’s natural behaviors and the integrity of your home. Start steering your feline friends towards their new scratching posts and other alternatives today, and you’ll lay the foundation for a mutually beneficial relationship, keeping your beloved pet content and your home in pristine condition. Thanks for reading this article about how to get cats to stop scratching walls.

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