How to Stop a Cat from Scratching the Couch

Scratching is a normal and healthy behavior for cats. It helps them stretch their muscles and groom their claws. However, when pet cats are kept indoors, this natural behavior may conflict with their environment. If you’re at your wit’s end trying to keep your cat from scratching the couch, help your pet redirect the behavior by providing an acceptable place for scratching.[1]
EditUsing a Scratching Post Effectively
Buy a scratching post that you think your cat would like. Scratching posts come in different sizes and shapes and are made of different materials. Look at what your cat normally scratches on for clues as to what your cat prefers. Then try to find a scratching post that is similar.[2]
For example, if your cat enjoys scratching your couch and it is covered in a soft fabric, this can be a clue that a carpeted scratching post would be preferable to one covered in a hard or scratchy material, such as sisal.

Watch your cat’s scratching behaviors and determine whether it prefers to scratch vertical or horizontal surfaces. If your cat likes to scratch carpets, get a horizontal scratching post. If it likes to sharpen its claws on doorframes or furniture, get an upright post.

Keep in mind that you and your cat may have very different ideas of the ideal scratching post. You may prefer something neat, inconspicuous, and out of the way, while your cat may not be satisfied unless it can produce a mound of shredded cardboard.

Look for a stable base for a vertical scratching post. If the scratching post is wobbly, your cat probably won’t use it. A vertical post with an insecure base could also topple over onto your cat. Even if your cat escapes uninjured, it will likely never return to that scratching post.[3]
Try to find a post with a heavy, double-thick base. If you’re going to place the post on a carpeted floor, find a base with feet that will anchor the base into the carpet.

Choose a scratching post tall or long enough for your cat to stretch. The scratching post should be at least tall or long. This gives your cat enough room to stretch out to its full length.[4]
Cats sometimes hunker down when they’re scratching. This is a normal position that works to stretch other muscles. It doesn’t mean you don’t need a taller or longer post.

Place the scratching post in a desirable location. When you take your scratching post home, put it in a place where your cat frequents. Since the problem is scratching the couch, you might want to start by placing the scratching post next to the part of the couch your cat typically scratches.[5]
Keep in mind that cats scratch to mark their territory. Even if you would prefer the scratching post to be out of the way, your cat will be unlikely to use a post in a back corner where it never normally goes.

Cats often scratch after waking up. If your cat has a cat bed it uses, or if it normally sleeps in a favorite chair or windowsill, you might try placing the scratching post near there.

If your cat normally scratches before or after eating, you might try placing the scratching post near the cat’s food and water dishes.

Secure the scratching post so that it stays in place. Your cat likely won’t be interested in a scratching post if it has to chase the thing around to scratch it. After all, your cat already likes to scratch your couch, which is a fairly stable piece of furniture. Tug on the scratching post before you introduce it to your cat to test its stability.[6]
If you have a vertical scratching post, a sturdy base should keep it from moving around. You might also want to put it next to a wall for additional stability.

For a horizontal scratching post, try securing it under another piece of furniture or attaching it to the floor using strong, double-sided tape.

Keep the same scratching post even when it’s worn down. As your cat continues to use the scratching post, it will likely start looking tattered and worn. You may find it visually unappealing or think it needs to be replaced. Your cat, however, likely thinks the post has been perfectly worn in.[7]
If small pieces fall off the scratching post onto the floor, feel free to sweep or vacuum them up. You can also run a vacuum hose over the scratching post itself occasionally to keep it looking a little neater.

EditMaking the Couch Unappealing
Spray your couch with an enzymatic cleaner to remove your cat’s scent. When your cat scratches the couch, it also secretes oils and scent markings through glands in its paws. Since your cat scratches in part to mark its territory, it will return to the couch to renew that scent.[8]
Enzymatic pet-odor removers can help eliminate the scent. You can buy these sprays online, or at a pet supply store. Don’t waste your money on deodorizers that only mask the scent but won’t eliminate the enzymes that cause the scent only your cat can smell.

Place undesirable items on the couch to prevent scratching. Materials such as double-sided tape, aluminum foil, and sandpaper will make scratching your couch difficult or uncomfortable for your cat. If you place them where your cat normally scratches, your cat will avoid those spots.[9]
It might take anywhere from several weeks to several months before your cat stops trying to scratch your couch. Leave these items on the couch as long as possible, then remove them slowly, an item at a time.

If you find the items unsightly and want to remove them when you have guests over, make sure you replace them as soon as possible, or your cat may try to scratch the couch again.

Surround your couch with smells that are unpleasant to cats. Like undesirable items, unpleasant smells will cause your cat to avoid the area surrounding the couch. This may prevent inappropriate scratching. Fortunately, many of these smells, such as menthol and citrus, are not unpleasant to people.[10]
A cotton ball soaked in perfume or cologne might also work as a deterrent. Remember that cats’ noses are more sensitive than yours – you don’t need an overwhelming amount to deter your cat.

If you’re using an unpleasant smell as a deterrent, don’t place your cat’s scratching post too close to the couch. If the scratching post has the same unpleasant smell, your cat won’t use it either, thus defeating the purpose.

Refrain from physically punishing your cat. Physical punishment doesn’t work with cats, because your cat won’t associate what you’re doing with the act of scratching the couch. Although it may help relieve some of your frustration, your cat will get angry with you and may not trust you. Over time, this can do serious damage to your relationship with your pet.[11]
Even if your cat does associate the physical punishment with scratching the couch, it will simply wait until you’re not around to scratch the couch. This continues the behavior while avoiding the negative consequence.

EditRedirecting the Scratching Behavior
Feed and play with your cat near the scratching post. When you feed and play with your cat in the vicinity of the scratching post, your cat will develop pleasurable associations with the post. Eventually, curiosity will overtake your cat and it will likely want to explore the post and start scratching on it.[12]
Your cat will become more comfortable and familiar with the post by spending more time around it. This is especially important if you have a cat that is naturally shy or fearful of new things.

Play with your cat every day to help it release pent-up energy. Sometimes cats scratch out of boredom.

Use catnip and toys to make the scratching post look and smell appealing. If your cat enjoys catnip, try sprinkling some dried catnip leaves or powder around and on the scratching post. The catnip will attract your cat, and it will likely start scratching at the post to get the catnip.[13]
Place items that are familiar to your cat around the scratching post. This will encourage your cat to start thinking of the post as one of its things.

Move your cat to the post when it scratches the couch. If you see your cat scratching the couch, immediately pick it up and move it to the post. This redirects the cat’s natural behavior to an appropriate scratching target.[14]
If you find you have to redirect often, it’s a good idea to have the scratching post as close to the couch as possible. Your cat will likely resist being carried any distance to another location. When your cat gets to the point that it seldom scratches the couch, you can relocate the scratching post if you want.

Reward your cat for scratching on the scratching post. Whenever you see your cat using the scratching post, immediately give it a treat or an encouraging pet. This positive reinforcement helps teach your cat that the scratching post is an appropriate place for scratching.[15]
As the behavior becomes more frequent, don’t reward your cat every time it uses the post. Reward randomly so your cat doesn’t only use the post with the expectation of a treat.

If at all possible, start redirecting the behavior while your cat is still young. Older cats will take longer to learn to scratch in the appropriate place.[16]
You can also use a product, such as Soft Paws, to cover your cat’s claws. While this won’t stop the scratching, it will minimize the damage while you teach your pet more appropriate places to scratch.[17]
Trim your cat’s claws or visit a groomer. This ensures your cat won’t damage your couch quite as much.

Do not have your cat declawed. Declawing is actually illegal in many places. The procedure is very painful for your cat and can have serious consequences. If done improperly, declawing can damage the tendons in your cat’s paws, affecting its ability to walk. Declawing also may make your cat less likely to use the litter box or more likely to bite.[18]
EditRelated wikiHows
Pet a High Strung Cat

Keep a Cat from Running Away when It Is Moved

Make a Cat Scratching Post

Keep Your Dog from Chasing Cats

Have Multiple Cats

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Today in History for 22nd January 2019

Historical Events

1588 – Pope Sixtus V decrees “Immense aeterni” (Reformed curia)
1813 – Americans capture Frenchtown, Michigan Territory
1879 – Battle of Rorke’s Drift: British garrison of 150 holds off 3,000-4,000 Zulu warriors. Eleven Victoria Crosses and a number of other decorations were awarded to the defenders.
1906 – SS Valencia runs aground on rocks on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, killing more than 130
1969 – Orbiting Solar Observatory 5 launched into earth orbit
1983 – 2nd flight readiness firing of Challenger’s main engines; 22 seconds

More Historical Events »

Famous Birthdays

1263 – Ibn Taymiya, Islamic scholar (d. 1328)
1906 – Willa B Brown (Coffey), US African American air pioneer (NAAA)
1916 – Harilal Upadhyay, Gujarati Author, Poet, Astrologist (Gujarat is a State of India) (d. 1994)
1921 – Andre Hodeir, composer
1935 – Pierre S Du Pont IV, (gov-Del)
1963 – Andrei Tchmil, Ukrainian-Belgian cyclist, born in Khabarovsk, Russia

More Famous Birthdays »

Famous Deaths

1900 – David Edward Hughes, British-American inventor (microphone, teleprinter), dies at 68
1945 – Alfred Wolfenstein, German writer, dies at 61
1978 – Oliver Leese, British World War II general, dies at 83
1988 – Georgi M Malenkov, Russian premier (1953-55), dies at 86
2005 – Carlo Orelli, Italian veteran of World War I (b. 1894)
2010 – Jean Simmons, British actress (Thorn Birds, Guys and Dolls), dies at 80

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How to Embroider

The art of sewing fancy stitches in fabric to create designs and pictures is as varied and fun today as it has been for centuries. You too can get started on your own journey into the world of thread and needle. Gather some special tools and materials to embroider. Then, learn a few basic embroidery stitches and decide what you want to embroider onto your fabric. Try embroidering something for yourself, to sell online, or as a gift for someone special!

EditGathering Embroidery Tools and Materials
Opt for plain white cotton or linen as your embroidery fabric. A loose weavable fabric is a good choice for your first projects. Hold the fabric up in front of a light source to see if the grid lines are visible on the fabric and if you can see light coming through it. If so, the fabric will work well for embroidery.[1]
You may embroider on any color of fabric, but lighter hues may make your stitches stand out more.

Embroidery fabric is available in the embroidery section of your local craft supply store or online.

You may also choose something from around your house to embroider for practice, such as a handkerchief, a cloth napkin, or a thin dish towel.

Purchase a pattern and transfer the pattern to your fabric. You can purchase embroidery patterns in craft supply stores. Choose a beginner pattern if you are new to embroidery. Use the included transfer paper to imprint the outline of the design on your fabric.[2]
Follow the pattern’s instructions to transfer the design outline to your fabric.

You can find free embroidery patterns online if you don’t want to purchase one.

Select multi-strand embroidery thread to adjust the thickness of your stitches. Multi-strand embroidery thread (also known as floss) comes in bundles of multiple strands. This will allow you to pull the strands apart and choose the thickness of your thread before you begin stitching. This may come in handy for different parts of your design.[3]
For example, to create a thick border stitch in 1 part of your design, then don’t remove any strands. However, to subtly outline a part of your design, use a single strand.

Make sure to check your pattern for thread type and color recommendations.

You can also use yarn if you will be embroidering on a knit or crocheted item, such as a sweater or scarf.

Get an embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taut. Unstretched fabric will wrinkle and become difficult to work with as you create the stitches, so you will need an embroidery hoop.[4] An embroidery hoop has a nut and screw that tightens 2 hoops around your fabric. This is what keeps the fabric taut while you embroider.[5]
Embroidery hoops come in several different sizes. Choose the size you will need for your project. In most cases, a smaller hoop such as a hoop will work best. This size hoop will be easier to hold than a larger hoop.

Use an embroidery needle to ensure that the thread will fit through it. Embroidery needles have larger eyes than other types of needles, so it is easier to fit thicker strands of thread through the eye of the needle. Look in the craft supply section of your local craft supply store to find embroidery needles.[6]
Make sure that you have a pair of sharp scissors on hand as well. You will need them to cut a length of thread each time you change colors or need to rethread your needle.[7]

EditChoosing Embroidery Stitches
Make a backstitch for straight lines. Insert a threaded needle through the back of your embroidery until the knot is up against the back of the fabric. Pull through until the thread is taut. Then, insert the needle through the front of the fabric about from where it came out. Bring the needle up through the back side of the fabric again about from where it came out on the back side. Then, insert the needle down through the fabric where the first stitch ends on the front side of the fabric.[8]
To continue the stitch, stab up through the fabric a stitch length away from the end of the last stitch you completed, and then go back down through at the end of the last stitch.

Make sure to pull the needle until the thread is taut after every stitch.

The backstitch is a staple stitch for making straight lines in embroidery, so make sure to practice it.

Try a split stitch to created bold lines. Insert the needle through on the back side of the fabric and pull it taut. Then, bring it down through the front of the fabric from where it came out. Bring it up again from where it came out and back down through the middle of the last stitch you made on the front side of the fabric.[9]
To continue this stitch, stab up through the fabric half of a stitch length away from the end of the last stitch you made, and then insert the needle back down through the fabric at the midpoint of the last stitch.

This stitch is similar to the backstitch. It will take a little longer to create a straight line with the split stitch, but the line will be thicker than it would be with a backstitch.

Create a running stitch for a dashed line. To do a running stitch, insert the threaded needle into the fabric on the back side until the knot is up against the back of the fabric. Then, insert the needle down through the fabric on the front side (depending on how wide you want the stitches to be) from where it came out. Bring the needle back through the fabric on the back side again to repeat the stitch.[10]
Make sure to keep the stitches even.

You will always be moving forward with a running stitch and the stitches should look like small dashes.

Choose the stem stitch to outline items. Insert the threaded needle through the back side of the fabric, and then bring it through until the knot is up against the back. Bring the needle down and through the fabric again from where it came out to complete the first stitch. Insert the needle back up and through the fabric right next to the midway point of the first stitch. Do not insert the needle through the thread.[11]
To continue the stitch, insert the needle back down through the fabric a stitch length away from where you brought it up. Then, bring the needle back up through the fabric beside the middle of this new stitch.

Repeat to create more stitches.

Try the chain stitch for a bold outline or filler. Bring the threaded needle through of the fabric until the knot is against the back of it. Then, insert the needle down through the front side of the fabric right next to where it came out, and immediately bring the pointed end of the needle back up on the front side of the embroidery again about away from where you inserted it. Make sure that the tail of the thread remains on the front side of the fabric, and then pull the needle to tighten this thread around your starting stitch.[12]
This will form a chain shape around the base of the thread.

Repeat to make more chain stitches in a row or as filler for a shape.

EditSelecting an Embroidery Design
Create a sampler if you want to practice different stitches. Before you get into creating complex designs with text, borders, and other advanced features, try outlining a simple shape and filling it in with different types of stitches. This type of project is also known as a sampler and it is a great way to practice different types of stitches. Choose any simple shape that you like and fill it in with the stitches of your choice![13]
For example, create a heart and fill in the borders with rows of different stitches. Use a different color for each type of thread to differentiate them.

Focus on a small, intricate object if you want to practice fine details. If you want to create an intricate image as part of your design, go with something small. This will allow you to focus on the design without becoming overwhelmed.[14]
For example, you could try making a small teddy bear wearing a bow tie, a tree with lots of tiny leaves, or an intricate spider web.

Use the design as the focal point for your embroidery and do something simple to embellish it, such as by embroidering a bee and then adding a single dashed line behind it to show the bee’s flight path.

Embroider a large floral design if you want to try making flowers. Flowers are popular items to embroider onto fabric, and doing a single large flower is a great option if you are a beginner. Use a pattern to transfer the image of a flower onto your fabric, or draw the flower onto the fabric freehand using a pen or pencil. Then, fill in the design with the stitches of your choice.[15]
Use a variety of stitches to fill in the flowers.

Switch your thread color for different parts of the flower, such as green for the stem and purple for the petals.

Stitch simple letters onto items if you want to personalize them. Embroidered letters can be simple or complex. If you are just getting started with embroidery, opt for a letters that are made up of straight stitches, such as backstitches or split stitches. Try adding initials or a name to an item to personalize it or spell out a short message next to a design.[16]
For example, embroider your initials onto a shirt or scarf to personalize it.

If you have embroidered the image of a heart on a piece of fabric, then spell out the word “love” above it.

There are many different types of embroidery stitches. After you master some of the basic stitches, try more advanced stitches.

Purchasing a small embroidery kit can be a good introduction. It saves you the trouble of designing, choosing colors, and choosing thread.

Start with something small that can be completed quickly for your first project.

EditThings You’ll Need

Embroidery thread

Embroidery hoop

Embroidery needle



Transfer paper

EditSources and Citations
EditQuick Summary
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