Your Cat’s Scratching Nature

June 15, 2018

Your Cat’s Scratching Nature

Why do cats scratch anything and everything? Have you ever wondered why they behave in such manner?

Scratching is actually natural with cats. It’s one of their primal and instinctual urges. This is something that they do their whole lives. It may seem like a pointless and inconvenient cat behavior, but there are actually many explanations why they do it. See also: Cat Behavior and Psychology

Instinct

 

Animals have certain instincts. Cats were given claws, so of course they want to use them. All cat breeds do it. Scratching is a vital part in a feline’s everyday life. They also do it to strengthen their paws, shed old cuticle and sharpen their claws.

Cats scratch things as a means of flexing and stretching the muscles in their back and their upper body. It’s just something you have to admit. Training them to scratch where you want may work best when you accept and appreciate the power of the feline’s natural instinct. This keeps your cat in shape too!

Advantage for Their Claws

 



This action of scratching is referred to as stropping, loosens and removes the outer husk of the claw revealing a sharp new surface underneath. Claw sharpening is an act of grooming for the cat. Read more at Healthy Benefits of Scratching to Cats .

The cat claws are constantly growing and they need to wear down the dead part of the nails to make way for the new ones. This keeps the nails healthy, strong and conditioned. In the wild, a cat’s claws are an excellent climbing aid as well as a hunting tool. Keeping them sharp is clearly essential. The dull surface layer on their claws may also be a source of irritation or discomfort so removing it is an important part of maintaining healthy nails.

Cats who do not scratch and claw often wind up with over grown nails that grow into the paw pad if not trimmed, this makes walking painful and will cause an infection.


To Mark Territory

 


By nature, cats are territorial. They mark the most visible portions of your house and even in the wild. When a cat scratches something, she is leaving her scent and this marks as its territory or turf. Their paws have scent glands that allow them to dispense a distinct smell.

If cats could speak they would have said “Hey this is my domain, back off” to others. Though some cats will scratch more when in the presence of other cats.

Exactly what they are trying to convey is not well understood, but this type of scratching may be done as a display and to leave a scent and to communicate with other cats in the vicinity.


Relieves Stress and Anxiety

 

Not all cat behaviors are alike. They also scratch things to communicate and release emotions. Some cats do this to work off stress and anxiety. Scratching also serves as a means of kitty anger management.

Angry felines scratch things to release their frustration. Some scrape people and this can be a warning or defensive tactic when cats feel threatened. The motions stretch out their backs and shoulders, and the physical exertion helps calm them and relieve stress.

It’s either they do this to converse their happiness or aggressions. Cats that have a sudden increase in the amount of scratching means they’re stressed out. Having a new pet, a new house or always going away may add on to your cat’s anxiety and stress.

Cats that are scratching as a result of stress may also be showing other behavioral signs. Some of these include: hiding, decreased appetite and aggression towards human or other pets at home.


It May Be Part of Their Play

 

This could actually be their way of saying “Hello” or “I miss you, where have you been?” or maybe they just want to purely play that’s why they scratch you or your furniture at home. But most of the time, your cat scratches because it makes them feel good.

Scratching on Furniture

 


Furniture scratching. So many people are convinced this is a behavior displayed by cats just for the sheer thrill of destroying the living room sofa or treasured antique chair.

If you live with a cat who has turned your upholstery into mere shreds, you’re probably at your wit’s end in terms of whether keeping kitty means abandoning all hope of ever having intact furniture again.

The problem is that you might’ve gone at this the wrong way. You were trying to train your cat to NOT do something that is actually a normal and essential part of being feline. Scratching is important and more complex than you may realize. You might be under the misconception that scratching is merely your cat’s attempt to only sharpen his claws to razor-sharp perfection or that this cat behavior is based on a willful attempt to get back at you or destroy his surroundings. To learn more about your cat's scratching behavior please visit Cat Behavior.


If you view the cat’s motivation for scratching as just a willful act of destruction, you run the risk of damaging the relationship you have with your cat because he’ll become afraid to scratch in your presence to avoid physical or verbal punishment. Since he still has a natural need to scratch, the behavior will still be done but it’ll occur when you aren’t around. So be ready when you come home and have a down living room.

Cat lovers often think that these fur babies only scratch on vertical surfaces, like wooden posts, sofa and chairs but they are equally keen to scratch on horizontal surfaces like rugs and carpets too!

Carpet is not generally a preferred scratching substrate for cats. The loops catch their nails, resulting in unpleasant pulling on their toes.

Cats also prefer scratching rougher surfaces that more closely resemble tree trunks. However, if cats don't have access to proper scratching posts, they will use what is available to them, usually furniture like couches, dressers, and footstools. These cats will often scratch at carpets as well.


Take Necessary Actions

 

The best tactic when dealing with scratching is not to try to stop your cat from doing it, but instead to teach her where and what to scratch. An excellent approach is to provide her with appropriate, cat-attractive surfaces and objects to scratch, such as scratching posts. The following steps will help you encourage your cat to scratch where you want her to.

 


Provide a variety of cats scratching posts with different qualities and surfaces. Try giving your cat posts made of cardboard, carpeting, wood and upholstery. Some cats prefer horizontal posts.

Others like vertical posts or slanted posts. Some prefer a vertical grain for raking, while others favor a horizontal grain for picking. Once you figure out your cat’s preference for scratching, provide additional posts of that kind in various locations.

Keep in mind that all cats want a sturdy post that won’t shift or collapse when used. Most cats also like a post that’s tall enough that they can stretch fully. I found many pretty good cat scratching posts (such as: 

Cat Scratching Post Tree Scratcher Pole Gym Sisal House Furniture Tall Grey 92cm) at online store like activefelinesolutions.com.au.

Placement is important when trying to entice your cat to use a scratching post. Because scratching is also a marking and a natural cat behavior, most cats prefer to use a post that is placed in a prominent location. In fact, the best location to place the post, although not necessarily the most practical, is where the cat has already chosen to scratch. There are a lot of ways to manage your cat claws, please visit Cat Lovers to know more.

 

Therefore, it may be necessary to place the post in the center of a room or near furniture that the cat was trying to scratch until the cat reliably uses it and then move it to a less obtrusive location.

Train your cat to use the post. Condition your kitten or cat to use the scratching post and nothing else for scratching. Encourage your feline to unleash the claws on the new scratching post by gently placing him in front of it. At the same time, gently stroke your cat and wait for the response.

The post should be tall enough for the cat to scratch while standing on hind legs with the forelegs extended, and sturdy enough so that it does not topple when scratched. Some cats prefer a scratching post with a corner (like this one: Cat Scratching Tree Post Scratcher Pole Gym Furniture Toy Multilevel 170cm Beige) so that two sides can be scratched at once while other cats may prefer a horizontal scratching post (see: Cat Scratching Tree Post Scratcher Pole Gym Furniture Toy Multilevel 170cm Beige).


Special consideration should be given to the surface texture of the post. Commercial posts are often covered with tightly woven material for durability, but many cats prefer a loosely woven material where the claws can hook and tear during scratching.

If your cat could describe the ideal scratching pad, he'd probably tell you he wants something he can really sink his claws into. This means rough textures. If you look at what an outdoor cat uses to sharpen his claws, you'll find that he loves tree bark most of all. It's got a great rough texture that grabs at his claws.

 

    Scrapable

     
    Besides sharpening his claws, your feline also scratches just for the pure joy of shredding something.


    The material doesn't have to be easy for him to shred, but if it's indestructible he won't get the satisfaction he's seeking. Look for a material he can rip up at least a little bit in a single vigorous scratching section.
     

    Good Materials


    A piece of wood, especially one with bark, would be the ideal scratching pad, but it can be messy and inconvenient to keep inside. Besides wood, most cats prefer sisal over nearly all other materials. Let your cat try a sisal mat or sisal rope to see if he likes it as well as most cats.

    Corrugated cardboard is also good for letting your kitty satisfy his urge to shred, but obviously it does not last a long time. The back side of a rug can also make a good impromptu cat scratch pad (like this:D&C Lifestyle Hepper Hi-Lo Pet Scratcher for Cats - Dual Position, Arc Shape Elegant Construction, Eco-Friendly and Tubular Chrome Frame with Solid Brown Corrugated Cardboard Scratch Zone). Regular carpet isn't usually a very good material, and a lot of cats will simply ignore a carpeted scratch pad.

    Stability

     

      Besides having a textured material that your cat can shred, he also needs his scratch pad to be securely attached to the floor, wall, post or other surface. Even if it's his favorite texture, he won't want to spend time scratching it if it moves around when he goes for a good scratch. Make sure it's securely attached and completely stable.

      It’s a great idea to purchase a cat tree and some smaller scratching pads and posts before bringing a new cat home. This will allow you to start training your new friend to use them immediately and will increase your chances of the cat using the appropriate scratching areas from day one.

      Some cats will already know what a scratching post is and instinctually use it if it’s available to them. When you catch kitty clawing the back of the couch, simply move them to the cat scratching pad or post, after a few times of doing this they should get the idea.

      Introduce your cat to lots of toys and encourage it to play with them. Provide toys that stimulate and exercise. Sound, smell, texture and movement are all turn-ons to a cat’s curious nature. Offer a variety of playthings so your pet will not become easily bored. If we don’t give them an outlet or the tools they need to release that stress, they can suffer behavior, emotional or even physical consequences.

      There are many interactive cat toys available at your local pet product store. Some are very basic – pole, string, toy dangling on the end. Some are more complex. When shopping, try to match the toy to your cat’s personality. If you have a somewhat timid cat, go for a toy that’s more basic and easy for her to conquer.

      If you have a very confident, athletic cat, you can still go for the basic toy or you can choose something more challenging. Just don’t get an interactive toy that has too big of a target toy on the end because you don’t want it to be become an opponent. You can visit online stores like activefelinesolutions.com.au for more cat products.

      So the next time your cat tries to scratch your furniture and other stuff indoor or outdoor don’t be agitated. This comes natural to your feline friends. There are many solutions and alternatives for them to stretch out their muscles, mark a territory or change claws. Let’s give our cats a fun way to scratch that doesn't upset, it may be best for everyone involved. Because our animals will always be happiest when we let them express a little of their wild side.