Your cat is going to scratch something, there's no way to avoid that, but there are some foolproof ways to keep your furniture safe from your pets.
The most important thing you'll need for this process is a good attitude. It won't be easy to change your cat's behavior, in fact it will probably take a lot of hard work, but you'll be glad you taught your cat good habits years from now when your sofa is still in good shape.
So grab a scratching post and let's get to work, we've got a lot of chairs to save.
1. Know what your cat wants
One of the first mistakes people make is buying a scratching post their cat won't like. Every pet is different, so you may need to try a few before you find something appealing, but most of the time the key is finding a tall, stable post. Part of why cats scratch is to stretch out their legs, so you need to buy a scratcher that lets them do that.
2. It's not "one size fits all"
So you just took a brand new scratching post out of the box and your cat is already ripping up the curtains. What gives? Some cats just love certain fabrics, so you need to try a few until you find what they like. You can wrap things like cardboard, old curtains or rope around your post to see what your cat likes.
3. Let them see their handiwork
Another simple mistake is tossing out your cat's old scratchers. Cats scratch things to mark their territory, so if you take away their marker they might decide to scratch up everything else in the room to send a message. Just wrap a few sections with new material and let them keep it.
4. Learn how to encourage your cat
How do you get your cat to use their scratching post? Location, location, location. Scratching is a public thing for your cat, so leave it in a room you both visit, maybe next to their favorite place to lie down in the living room. When you see them using it, reward them with treats. If you want, you can also spray them or use a noisemaker when you catch them ripping up your couch.
5. Cat-proof your valuables
An easy way to shield surfaces from your pet is to make them really annoying to scratch. Cats hate to run their claws through aluminum foil or double sided tape. It will look a little silly if you invite people over, but it works like a charm.
6. Use smells
Cats are easy to persuade: rub a little catnip on their scratcher and their fall in love with it. On the other hand, you can make them fall out of love with your curtains or carpet by using citrus-scented smells and cleaners where they're scratching. If this isn't working, try a pet-odor remover instead.
7. Tire your cat out
Aside from all the social reasons, cats also claw things for exercise, or even out of boredom. If you let your cat chase a toy around for a while, they might be too tired to ruin anything.
8. Don't "teach" them
Sometimes people think they just need to "show" their cat how to use the scratcher by rubbing their paws on it. Mostly, this will just annoy your cat. Instead, try putting them in front of the post and petting them. Cats will scratch when they're happy, so you can encourage them without forcing them to use the post.
9. Keep their claws trimmed
People have very strong opinions about whether it's okay to declaw cats or not, but there's no need for such a drastic procedure anyways. Your vet can show you how to use a claw trimmer, which makes it harder for your cat to do real damage. You can also try Soft Paws, they're little plastic hoods for your cat's claws that protect your home while making your pet look stylish.
10. Don't get upset with them
Your cat doesn't understand why their behavior is bad, so don't expect them to. This should be obvious, but it's never a good idea to hit your cat. If this does anything it will just make the problem worse, because your cat will get anxious and start scratching more - plus, you'll deserve to have your house ruined!