There’s a lovely sub-Reddit out there named r/CatAdvice, which caters to a quarter-million “felines fanatics.” One of the most desperate posts over there asks: “Can anything REALLY stop my cats from scratching the couch!?!?!” The replies are, well, replies, but we may have some scientific answers in 2024.

A new study published in the peer-reviewed Frontiers in Veterinary Science journal has outlined factors that are directly linked to the scratchy behavior of cats. Based on data collected from 1,200 gato guardians, a cat’s journey towards destroying some fine sofa depends entirely on the home environment.

Here’s the sauce straight from the study’s leading author:

“The presence of children in the home as well as high levels of play and nocturnal activity significantly contribute to increased scratching. Cats described as aggressive or disruptive also exhibited higher levels of scratching.”

Our feline friends get their claws in a tizzy when they're feeling frazzled, according to the research. Picture this: tiny humans toddle into the scene, and suddenly kitty's stress-o-meter goes bonkers. It's scratch-city time! But the researchers aren’t quite sure why the man-munchkins make our furry pals go bonkers with the scratch-scratch.

Cat sitting on a chair.
Credit: Ferat Soylemez / Pexels

It's a furry mystery that needs more whisker-twitching investigation! But there’s another aspect at play here. Apparently, when kitties have too much fun (is there such a thing?), their playful pouncing can turn into a stress fest! It's like they've had one too many games of "catch the red dot." All that non-stop tail-chasing and toy-batting can leave them feeling like they've had too much catnip!

Need more reason to believe in this feline research? Well, the lead on this study is Dr Yasemin Salgirli Demi̇rbas, a veterinary researcher at Ankara University. Ankara, as you might know, is the capital of Turkey, a country overflowing with cats. DailySabah has a meowtiful photo-story titled “Turkey: The Land of Cats” that will give you an idea of how these furry animals have an absolute reign over the country.

So, how can we save our furniture from becoming the next cat-paw victim? The experts suggest putting a scratch post(s) in your home, especially a spot that is frequented by the cat, or close to their resting hideouts. The team also suggests using pheromones to handle this destructive behavior.

“Providing safe hiding places, elevated observation spots, and ample play opportunities can also help alleviate stress and engage the cat in more constructive activities,” adds Dr. Salgirli. Trimming the length of play sessions, and engaging a cat frequently to keep its interest hooked, could also bring some relief.

Read the whole research paper here.

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