Does Your Cat Still Scratch the Furniture? The Truth About Cat Scratch Deterrents


Have you ever returned home to find your new couch or armchair ripped to shreds? Or woken up at night to the sound of scratching as your cat tears into the drywall? Destructive scratching is one of the top reasons cats are surrendered to shelters. But before you consider rehoming your feline friend, you may want to try using a cat scratch deterrent.

Cat scratch deterrents are products designed to stop cats from clawing furniture, carpets, walls, doors, and other household items. They work by creating surfaces cats find unappealing to scratch. But with so many deterrent sprays, gels, and other products on the market, how do you know what actually works? This article will overview the most common cat scratch deterrents, evaluate their effectiveness, and provide tips for selecting the right deterrent for your cat’s scratching habits.

We’ll cover questions like: Do cat scratch deterrents really work? What are the pros and cons of different deterrent types? When should deterrents be avoided? And what alternatives exist if deterrents just aren’t cutting it? Read on for the scoop on stopping destructive cat scratches for good.

Common Cat Scratch Deterrents

There are several types of deterrents commonly used to discourage cats from scratching furniture and other household items:

Scratching deterrent sprays contain scents cats dislike, such as citrus, menthol, eucalyptus, or lavender oils. When sprayed on surfaces, they aim to deter scratching through an unpleasant aroma. For example, the Sentry Stop That! Scratch Deterrent Cat Spray uses natural essential oils.

Scratching deterrent tapes have sticky or rough textures cats don’t like touching. They are applied to surfaces to make them unappealing areas for scratching. For instance, KatSupreme Double-Sided Tape has textures on both sides to annoy cats’ paws.

Scratching posts and pads give cats an approved alternative surface to scratch. Their textures and materials aim to be more attractive than furniture. Adding catnip can also entice cats to use them.

Deterrent pheromones like Feliway mimic cats’ facial pheromones to mark areas as unsafe territory and discourage unwanted behaviors like scratching there.

Training, distraction, and trimming nails can also deter scratching without anti-scratching products. Providing enrichment and vertical scratching spots make cats less likely to damage household items.

Do Cat Scratch Deterrents Work?

Studies show that some cat scratch deterrents can be effective at reducing unwanted scratching behavior when used properly. A 2022 study published in Animals reviewed research on various deterrent methods and found that providing appropriate scratching posts, using synthetic feline pheromones, and trimming claws can significantly decrease scratching of furniture and other household objects ( However, other common deterrents like double-sided tape, tin foil, nail caps, and sprays were not found to reliably stop unwanted scratching.

Of the available deterrent products, sprays containing synthetic pheromones seem to have the best results. A study in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery tested a pheromone scratch deterrent spray and found it reduced scratching of furniture by 72% compared to placebo. The effects lasted for at least 4 weeks after spraying ( This indicates that while deterrent sprays are not 100% effective, pheromone-based sprays can significantly curb scratching behaviors when used consistently.

Overall, research shows mixed results on various deterrents. Providing cats with attractive scratching posts, keeping their claws trimmed, and using pheromone sprays appear to be the most effective approaches. However, no single deterrent completely stops unwanted scratching in all cats.

Pros of Using Deterrents

Deterrents can help protect furniture, carpet, curtains, and other household items from being scratched or damaged by cats. This saves cat owners money by avoiding costly repairs or replacements. Deterrent sprays, tapes, or caps for nails redirect scratching to more appropriate surfaces like scratching posts.

Using deterrents is also seen as a more humane alternative compared to declawing, which involves amputating part of a cat’s toes and can cause lifelong pain. Deterrents aim to change behavior without permanently altering the cat’s body.

Deterrents are less stressful for the cat than punishment-based training involving yelling or physical discipline. Sprays don’t hurt but startle with an unpleasant smell. Tapes feel unappealing on paws. By discouraging unwanted scratching, deterrents reward good behavior on designated scratchers.

Source 1

Cons of Using Deterrents

While deterrents can be an effective solution for some cats, they do come with some downsides to consider:

Deterrents may not work for all cats. As the ASPCA notes, “Cats have distinct preferences when it comes to scratching posts and surfaces. What drives one cat crazy may have no effect whatsoever on another.” (Source)

Deterrent sprays and tapes can become expensive with regular reapplication. As deterrent effects wear off, you’ll need to reapply them frequently to maintain effectiveness. This can add up over time. (Source)

Frequent reapplication is often necessary. Most deterrent sprays and tapes lose effectiveness after a few days or weeks. To keep working, they need to be reapplied regularly per the manufacturer’s instructions. This can be time-consuming and annoying. (Source)

Tips for Effective Use

Proper training is key for deterrents to work effectively. Using deterrents should be paired with positive reinforcement when your cat scratches approved surfaces like scratching posts. Consistency is also important – deterrents must be applied continuously in problem areas for your cat to learn not to scratch there. According to vets, the most effective approach is to use deterrents consistently along with providing enticing scratching posts nearby problem areas.

For example, if your cat likes to scratch the couch, place an attractive scratching post right next to the couch and make sure to regularly apply deterrent spray or tape to the couch. Then reward your cat with treats and praise when they use the scratching post instead. Over time and with consistency, the deterrents will condition your cat to avoid the unwanted scratching spot.

As veterinarians emphasize, deterrents generally work best as part of this combined approach with scratching posts rather than relying solely on the deterrents themselves. This comprehensive training helps redirect your cat’s natural scratching instinct while protecting your home furnishings.

According to one study, strategic use of cat scratch deterrents alongside scratching posts can reduce inappropriate scratching by up to 90%. But the deterrents must be used properly and consistently to achieve these results.

When to Avoid Deterrents

While cat scratch deterrents can be an effective training tool for some cats, there are situations where they should be avoided. Deterrent sprays, tapes, or surfaces may irritate a cat’s skin or cause anxiety in certain cats. Here are some specific cases where cat deterrents are not recommended:

For cats with skin sensitivities – Cats can develop skin allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients in deterrent sprays or tapes. The adhesive or chemicals could lead to reactions like redness, itching, hair loss, and skin irritation. Avoid using topical deterrents if your cat has any known skin issues.

If causing stress/anxiety in cat – While the intent is to curb unwanted scratching behaviors, for some cats, deterrents may heighten anxiety levels or stress. Signs of this include excessive meowing or crying, hiding, lack of appetite, agitation, or acting withdrawn. If a cat shows these behaviors in response to deterrents, they will likely do more harm than good and should not be used.

Alternatives to Deterrents

There are some alternative methods to deterrents that can help redirect scratching behavior in a more positive way. These methods focus on providing cats with appropriate outlets and training rather than using negative reinforcement.

Regularly trimming your cat’s claws can help reduce damage from scratching. Claws should be trimmed every 10-14 days, taking care not to trim too close to the quick. Keeping claws trimmed will remove the sharp points and make furniture and scratching posts less appealing [1].

Providing scratching posts and surfaces is one of the best ways to satisfy a cat’s innate desire to scratch. Place posts near furniture the cat scratches and encourage use by sprinkling catnip. Vertical and horizontal scratching posts should be available to accommodate different scratching preferences.

For kittens, start training early not to scratch furniture. Provide appropriate scratching surfaces and consistently move and redirect the kitten to those surfaces when attempting to claw furniture. Reward with treats when they use their posts. This positive reinforcement will instill good scratching habits [2].

The Bottom Line

In summary, cat scratch deterrents can be effective but have limitations. Sprays, gels and tapes create physical barriers that may discourage scratching, but cats can still scratch around them. Devices using sounds, scents or textures can startle cats, but they may habituate. Deterrents work best with training and by providing acceptable scratching surfaces. Ultimately, deterrents should be used sparingly when needed, not as the only solution. Proper care, trimming nails, and outlets for natural behavior are better long-term approaches.

To directly answer whether cat scratch deterrents work – they can, but not as a cure-all. Deterrents need proper and limited use to have an effect. They should supplement, not replace, broader training and care. With realistic expectations, the right deterrent can help curb undesirable scratching. But it takes effort to teach cats acceptable scratching habits.


– The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). “Cat Care: Discouraging Unwanted Behavior.” Accessed January 30, 2023.

– Greene, Caitlin. “How to Stop Your Cat from Scratching.” The Spruce Pets. Updated December 28, 2022. Accessed January 30, 2023.

– Mikkelson, Mikkel. “Cat Scratch Deterrent Sprays.” PetKeen. Published August 12, 2021. Accessed January 30, 2023.

– O’Kell, Amanda. “How To Keep Cats From Scratching Furniture.” American Kennel Club. Published August 12, 2022. Accessed January 30, 2023.

– PawsIQ. “Do Cat Scratch Deterrents Really Work?” YouTube, January 24, 2022. Accessed January 30, 2023.

Scroll to Top