Behavioral problems

How to Keep Cats Off the Back of the Couch

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 28, 2024
How to Keep Cats Off the Back of the Couch

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Some people love to see a cat resting on the back of their couch. They look adorable in repose and they are close enough to keep us company. However, a cat's nature can often lead them to causing damage to the furniture with scratching, kneading the fabric of leaving their fur everywhere. While we may want to keep the cat off the furniture, we need to do what is best for both the cat and ourselves.

In this AnimalWised article we provide tricks and home remedies to know how to keep cats off the back of the couch. We also discuss why they go on furniture in the first place and whether we need to keep them off.

You may also be interested in: My Dog Rubs Against the Couch
  1. Why do cats go on the back of a couch?
  2. Should I stop my cat going on the couch?
  3. Provide better alternatives
  4. Training a cat to stay off the couch
  5. Rubber or vinyl mats
  6. Aluminium foil or double-sided tape
  7. Home remedies to keep cats off the couch

Why do cats go on the back of a couch?

In the wild, cats will spend a lot of time in the trees and other high places. This is because they are both a predator and a prey animal. As a predator, being up high allows them to scope out their surroundings for the presence of potential food. As prey, being up high allows them to avoid others which see them as food.

Although cats have been domesticated for millennia, this is not long enough to rid them of all their wild impulses. We see this in cats chasing insects, playing with toys and other behaviors similar to those necessary to living in the wild. Going up on the back of the couch or sleeping in high places are holdovers from their wild existence.

It is very uncommon for cats to sleep on the floor. Although there may not be many predators in our home, they can still be wary of vacuums, foot traffic or anything else which might cause them upset. This is why cat scratching trees often have levels up high where they can rest.

Although it is usually a good thing for a cat to be up high, it can lead to trouble. High-rise syndrome in cats is the term used to describe injuries sustained by cats which climb too high and fall. If we live in a tall building, we need to be very careful not to let the cat fall and for them to know appropriate boundaries.

Should I stop my cat going on the couch?

Since cats like being up high, they will use almost any tall surface to do so, regardless of how it may affect their human family. This is one of the reasons cats like climbing up on kitchen counters, along with the fact they are often attracted to food which might be there.

A couch, sofa or armchair is particularly inviting to them. Not only are they up high, but they are soft and warm places which allow them to feel comfortable and cosy. Many cat guardians love the fact that cats can curl up on the sofa with them. Spending quiet time and being affectionate together provides some of the many benefits of living with a cat.

However, the house proud often find cats are disruptive. If we spend a lot of money on a new sofa, it is understandable we might be annoyed if the cat leaves hair all over it or uses the sides to sharpen their claws. Unfortunately this is something we need to consider when thinking about adopting a cat in the first place.

Since a going up to a high place is a natural feline behavior, preventing a cat from doing so is going against their nature. We need to set boundaries for our cat as part of their training, but denying them expression of healthy and natural behaviors can be harmful. There are ways we can protect our belongings against damage from a cat, but in the most part, we need to accept that cats can be somewhat disruptive in the home.

Fortunately, there are ways we can try to prevent our cat from going on the back of the couch or other furniture without causing them harm. They include:

How to Keep Cats Off the Back of the Couch - Should I stop my cat going on the couch?

Provide better alternatives

As we have said, resting on the back of a couch or other piece of furniture is appealing to cats as it is comfortable, warm and high up. We can help to keep them off the couch by giving them an offer they can't refuse.

If we provide cosy cat beds which are kept up high, near somewhere warm (such as a radiator) and have lots of environmental enrichment nearby, they may see this as a better option over the couch. Some comfortable alternatives to the couch include:

  • Scratching posts for cats with comfortable platforms on them are great since they are up high. These also allow the cat to scratch their claws without harming the furniture.
  • Cat shelves and wall perches can be placed directly onto the wall. As long as the cat has a way of getting up there easily, they will enjoy the height advantage they bring and can keep them off the sofa.
  • A cat hammock is often ideal as it allows the cat somewhere soft to hide in while being up high. We can even purchase radiator hammocks for cats which affix to the radiator and keep the feline extra cosy.

Training a cat to stay off the couch

Many people think that cats cannot be trained. This is not only untrue, but it is a myth about cats which can be damaging. Although we can't expect our cat to do our bidding in the same way as most dogs can be trained, providing them with a proper education benefits both them and us.

Positive reinforcement is one of the most important aspects of training a cat to stay off furniture. We need to stress that we must never scold or shout at a cat for going on furniture. This provides negative reinforcement which can be counterproductive as it only serves to scare the cat and cause them trauma. It won't likely be effective in keeping them off the couch.

On the other hand, positive reinforcement helps to encourage cats to go somewhere else without harming them. When a cat is sleeping somewhere appropriate, we can pet them, say encouraging words and even offer a treat. When they are on the back of the couch, we can pick them up (if they allow) and place them somewhere more suitable. We can then provide positive reinforcement when they stay put.

Rubber or vinyl mats

Since cats like to rest on the back of sofas because they are comfortable, making them uncomfortable can help keep them off. You can by rubber or vinyl flooring from a hardware store and use it to run along the back of the couch. When the cat climbs up, they will often slide off or simply not enjoy being up there for any length of time.

Putting rubber or vinyl on your sofa won't be ideal for us over the long-term as it can result in us being uncomfortable, not to mention making our furniture look bad. However, if we provide them with a suitable alternative and encourage them to stay off, we might be able to remove the mats and the cat won't be interested in going up anymore.

Aluminium foil or double-sided tape

Again, you won't be able to use these over the long-term, but they might be enough to help your cat avoid going on the back of the furniture in the future. With the aluminium foil, the cat will not enjoy walking on the shiny surface. The sound alone can cause them to be wary and they will want to go anywhere else to be away from it, but it won't cause any harm.

We need to be careful if using double-sided tape. Most sticky tape won't cause any harm to the cat. It will only make the cats paws feel weird and they won't enjoy the sensation on their paws. However, if you use a very strong adhesive tape, it can cause the cat harm, remove patches of fur or even harm the skin on their sensitive paws. Also, double-sided tape will cause the back of your sofa to be sticky, so we will need to be careful with our own hair and skin.

How to Keep Cats Off the Back of the Couch - Aluminium foil or double-sided tape

Home remedies to keep cats off the couch

Finally, there are some home remedies to keep cats off the back of the cough in the form of solutions and sprays. However, we need to be careful not to make the environment unpleasant for ourselves.

There are various scents and smells which cats do not like. These are not necessarily unpleasant for us. For example, citrus smells can be delightful to our nose, but cats find them much to overpowering. If we make a solution of water and lemon essential oils (or any citrus smell) and spray it on the back of the sofa. Be careful not to damage the fabric of the sofa.

You can do the same with apple cider vinegar by providing a solution and putting it in a spray bottle. This might provide a sharp smell for a while, but it can be used safely on many materials. Since we are diluting it in water, it shouldn't smell too strong, but the cat's sensitive nose will still pick it up.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Keep Cats Off the Back of the Couch, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.

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How to Keep Cats Off the Back of the Couch