Why has my cat started to scratch furniture and what can I do to stop it?

This often happens when there has been a change in the cat's surroundings, or it feels in some way challenged. It might be that a more dominant cat has recently come into the neighbourhood. Cats are solitary creatures by nature, but they do communicate with each other in a variety of ways, including marking their territorial boundaries.

Scratching is not just a means of sharpening the claws. The resulting marks provide an unmistakable visual means of communication, being more permanent than scent for example, which can be washed away by rain. Yet there is also a hidden scent dimension to scratching - this is because between the cat's claws, there are glands which leave a scent behind at the spot as well, helping to identify the individual cat to others passing this spot.

Signs of scratching are usually evident in prominent positions, such as a fence pole in the garden. The answer indoors can be to provide a special scratching post. You also need to ensure that other cats cannot enter into the home through the cat flap, as this may trigger behaviour of this type. If your cat is initially reluctant to use its scratching post, attract its attention here by attaching a catnip-scented toy to the post.

Check also that the claws are not overgrown and very pointed, as this will make it painful for your pet to walk. This in turn may cause her to start scratching furniture to try to wear them down. In this case, a visit to the vet to have her claws trimmed will be necessary.