To stop your feline from using your couch for manicures, you need to get him or her interested in a scratching post or pad.
Pick the right scratch device. For horizontal scratchers (cats that stay on all fours and scratch across a level surface), try a pad made of corrugated cardboard, which felines like because it’s rough like the bark of a tree. It also massages the paws. Many brands contain catnip to further entice your feline. Check out the SmartyKat SuperScratcher (made from recycled cardboard and organically grown catnip) at most pet stores. For vertical scratchers (cats that stand on hind legs and scratch up high), choose a tall and stable post covered in carpet (available at most pet stores) or roughtextured sisal fabric (it stands up to heavy use; go to purrfectpost.com) or solid cedar (the most natural choice; see cozycatfurniture.com).
Train your cat to use it. Place the scratching device near where your cat normally scratches. You might have to pick him or her up and indicate where to swipe when he or she eyes the couch. Once your cat gets accustomed to it, gradually move the post or pad to your designated “scratching area.” Before long—about one to two weeks on average—your cat will learn where to go when the itch to scratch strikes. If your cat ignores the post and continues to use the couch, patiently, firmly, and consistently remind him or her of the acceptable place for scratching. Harsher tactics like spraying your cat with water can backfire and create a more defiant or fearful pet.