How to Keep a Cat from Scratching Furniture with Vinegar

Most cat owners will have this experience at some time: a perfectly good cat scratching post going unused while their furry friend is scratching the nearest piece of furniture.

Scratching surfaces is natural for cats but not so good for their owner’s furnishings. The good news is that there’s a great way to deter them from attacking the furniture with their claws. Let’s see how to keep a cat from scratching furniture with vinegar.

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Why Do Cats Scratch Furniture?

Scratching furniture might be frustrating in cat households, but normal behavior has simply been adapted to their environment.

Cats would scratch trees, fence posts, and other wooden surfaces in the wild for two reasons.

The first reason is that they have scent glands in their paws. By scratching things in their territory, they are marking it as theirs and advertising to other cats that this part of the world is theirs and keep away.

The other reason is that cats’ claws need regular work to shed their dead layer and allow new growth. Scratching things is a bit like a cat manicure, allowing them to keep their claws in top condition.

A Rex cat scratching a sofa

How to Keep Your Cat from Scratching Furniture with Vinegar

Cats don’t like the smell of vinegar, making it a great deterrent spray, but you don’t want to use it neat.

Instead, mix one part vinegar with one part water and add it to a spray bottle. Most people use white vinegar because it is cheaper, but the smell can be pretty harsh.

Another option is to use apple cider vinegar which smells sweeter but isn’t popular with cats. But you can use any type of vinegar you have in the house.

Avoid using it neat because the smell can be strong enough that you’ll put the cat off from entering the room entirely! You might also find it too strong for humans to cope with. The best way to is to start with a 1:1 ratio and then vary the ratio depending on how well it works.

It is also worth noting that vinegar can stain some furniture. It is a good idea to do a spot check with a small amount of the solution somewhere out of sight, like the back of a sofa.

Then leave the mixture for a few hours to see if it has caused a stain. If there’s no stain, you have a great deterrent, but another option will be needed if it does.

Once you start using the spray, you must reapply it every few days, or the smell will wear off.

Because scratching is a natural behavior, cats will often find something else to scratch if the furniture smells unpleasant, so make sure you have a cat tree or scratching post nearby to help train them to scratch in appropriate places that aren’t your furniture.

Finally, some cats ignore the smell of vinegar. As with most things, outliers exist, and while vinegar is the best solution for most cats, if you notice that yours ignores the vinegar-sprayed areas, you may need to find another method to change their behavior.

A grey tabby cat looking guilty while scratching a sofa and lying on its side

Other Tips to Stop Cats Scratching Furniture

If vinegar doesn’t work or you can’t stand the smell, other ways exist to stop your cat from scratching the furniture.

Essential Oils

One way is with essential oils. Like with vinegar, you can mix them in a spray bottle with water to create something you can spray on the furniture.

You only need a few drops of oil to make a strong-smelling spray. The good ones to use are lemon or orange, as cats don’t like the smell of citrus.

Eucalyptus oil can sometimes work, or other potent smelling oils. Like with vinegar, always be aware of the risk of staining your furniture and test it somewhere first before using it on larger areas of the furniture.

Cat Scratch Tape

Cat scratch tape is a double-sided sticky tape that can be applied to fabric, carpet, walls, and doors.

It is easy to add and remove, but the stickiness feels strange on the cat’s paws and puts them off from their usual scratching behavior.

It is an excellent way to stop cats from scratching leather furniture, for example, where water-based sprays could cause nasty stains on the material.

Vinyl Guards

Another idea is to add clear vinyl panels to your furniture to act as guards and stop the cat’s nails from piercing the soft material.

The vinyl is clear, so you can’t see it most of the time, and the cat’s claws can’t penetrate it. Most of these products come with small pins to add to the fabric, or you can use sewing pins.

Why Declawing Your Cat Isn’t the Answer

It is understandable to feel a little murderous towards your cat when they are scratching your furniture, but whatever happens, don’t consider declawing them.

Declawing is a process that involves removing the cat’s claws, and while it might seem like a good idea, there are some serious downsides to the process that make it one to avoid.

Silver tabby cat with paw on a human's hands, claws visible

For starters, the actual declawing process involves anesthesia and the possibility of infection when the claws have been removed.

There are horror stories of cats having paws amputated after these procedures, but let’s say that any time an animal is sedated, there are always risks, the same with any surgical procedure that can lead to an infection.

The other main reason is the emotional and behavioral problems that declawed cats can suffer. Cats are designed to have claws, and removing them leaves them in a constant state of panic that they can’t protect themselves or hunt, even if this isn’t necessary.

It can also lead to problems such as litter box avoidance and other unwanted behavior that can turn a much-loved cat into a problem pet.

Final Thoughts on How to Keep Your Cat from Scratching Furniture with Vinegar

Creating a cat scratch spray with some vinegar is one of the best ways to take a normal aspect of cat behavior and modify it to be less destructive.

While the smell of cider vinegar might not be the best, it is one of the easiest ways to stop your cat from seeing furniture as a scratching post.

This means no scratch marks on your furniture, all for having a simple vinegar spray on hand to use regularly.

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