Why Do Cats Scratch Everything?
15 December, 2014
Our felines love to scratch anything and everything. It is essential to their well-being and inherent in being a cat! Therefore, when a cat scratches your couch or bed or anything else for that matter, there is really no way to train them not to do it. You just have to redirect their scratching to something more appropriate to scratch.
Cat scratching is normal
As I mentioned above, cat scratching is more normal than you may think. Scratching is not your cat’s attempt to sharpen his claws or simply a way to destroy your furniture or carpet. Scratching does serve many inherent purposes for your cat. In addition to conditioning your cat’s claws, it’s a very effective way for the cat to stretch his or he back and shoulder muscles.
I’m stretching out my muscles!
By scratching, cats can remove the worn and fraying outer layer of the nail and hone and sharpen the claws, keeping them in excellent shape and having them ready for self-defense or hunting. The clawing habit is innate, so you will still your cat always scratching on a daily basis. As our cats age, their scratching needs tend to lessen and sometimes diminish altogether.
Cats scratch to mark their territory
Scratching is not just a way to shape their claws, it is done to mark their territory in the house. As they exercise their claws on the scratching post or pad, they are leaving their marks and scent on the post to draw their turf from other cats in the same area and signal them that this is their domain now. Even though your cats may not scratch your furniture any more, rest assured, there is no stopping when it comes to marking territory. By rubbing and pawing on the furniture, they are leaving their body scent emitted from the pheromone glands situated on the paws and their face. Marking with their scent will help them familiarize with the area next time they come around. Their scent tells them that they are within their own territory and assures safety of themselves.
Cats scratch to relieve stress
Scratching is also used as an emotional release or displacement behavior in your cat. When your cat is anxious, happy, excited or frustrated, he can release some of that built-up emotion by scratching. Think of the times you’ve seen your cat scratching on an object after a nap or when you’ve come home from work. You may even have noticed him scratching after an encounter with a companion cat. This emotional release through scratching is healthy for the cat. Or when you come home at night, your cat is so excited they scratch away on their scratch pad as they release endorphins.
Find the correct scratching post or pad for your cat
Your kitty will not stop scratching and therefore you need to find a viable alternative that meets your cat’s needs. Try to find a post or pad that has appealing texture, tall enough, stabile, and placed in a good location. In general, the most appealing texture for cats is sisal. The rough texture makes it easy for cats to dig their claws in and get an effective scratch. Carpet-covered posts are too soft and don’t meet the needs of most cats when they’re looking for a place to scratch.
Make sure the scratching post is high enough for your cat to stretch
The height of the scratching post should be tall enough so your cat can get a full stretch. If the post is too small, your cat will have to hunch down to use it and that doesn’t allow for a good back and neck stretch. Make sure the tall post is also very stable. A tall post needs a wide base in order to prevent it from toppling over the first time kitty leans against it.
Where should you put your cat post or scratch pad?
Even a great scratching post will just gather dust if you stick it in some far off location. When a cat needs to scratch he’ll look for the closest object that meets his needs. Keep the post where your cat likes to spend the most time.
If you have more than one cat, you’ll need more than one scratching post. Although you can’t don’t really ‘assign’ a post to a specific cat, if you place the posts in areas where the different cats tend to spend the most time, you may find they may just claim the posts on their own.
For cats who like to scratch horizontally, there are inexpensive cardboard scratching pads available at your local pet store. My cats love to horizontally scratch.
Make your cat’s favorite piece of furniture an after-thought
If your cat has been scratching a specific piece of furniture, place the scratching post right next to it. You can also cover a piece of furniture with a sheet or small textured rug off the side. If the scratching is limited to one specific area, place a few strips of Sticky Paws on it. Sticky paws is a double-faced tape made specifically for this purpose. The product is available at your local pet product store. This way, when the cat comes over to scratch the furniture, he’ll see the area isn’t as appealing or is covered and will notice the much better option in the form of a top of the line scratching post.
Cats love to scratch and won’t stop doing so. If you give them a viable alternative and make sure it’s properly placed and fits your cat’s needs, the scratching should move to the right place!