It is sometimes suggested that the cat is not a natural sociable animal, which may come as a surprise to many cat owners! Cats hunt on their own and prefer to defend themselves individually and so they are sometimes falsely accused of being loners. However, in a wild setting, cats tend to form organized hierarchies and there is a clear evidence of social behaviors in their relationships with humans and other cats in a domestic setting.
It is important to remember, however, that cats are naturally expert hunters. If your cat feels threatened and cornered he may lash out with his claws or deliver a more intentional bite. In particular, nursing cats should be treated with great respect and given plenty of space as their desire to protect their kittens can make a previously mellow cat react with much greater aggression.
One of the behaviors in cats (in particular kittens) will frequently scratch their human companions without intending any harm particularly when playing or if given a fright. If panicked, a cat will often claw their way to freedom even if this causes (largely unintentional) damage to the person who is holding them or on whom they are sitting. No matter how safe a cat’s environment is, they retain a strong sense of self preservation and can easily be startled. When playing with toys, cats and kittens will often fail to distinguish between the toy and the hand holding it and so care should be taken if you do not want to get scratched. It is also worth remembering that even the tiniest kitten is fairly hardy and human skin is very fragile by comparison. It can take a while for a kitten to learn that her human friend is so easily damaged and you should help her understand this by reacting (but not overreacting) to any scratch by saying no firmly and withholding your attention for a short period.
Most cats will learn to be more careful and to keep their claws under wraps when playing but the occasional accident is still fairly common.
Cats scratch for a variety of reasons: to maintain the health of their nails, to stretch out the muscles in their shoulders and back, to mark their territory around other cats, and to serve as an emotional outlet (scratching after being startled, frustrated, or relieved at the owner returning home). For more details about health benefits of scratching you may visit the article Healthy Benefits of Scratching to Cats. Cats need to scratch just as puppies need to chew, so the owner’s goal is not to eliminate the behavior but to manage it in the safest and least destructive way possible. Cats need to sharpen their claws and remove the husk of old claws and so will often scratch furniture and carpets if you have not provided them with a suitable alternative. In order to avoid this damage you should buy a good quality of scratching post like the Cat Scratching Post Tree Scratcher Pole Gym Sisal House Furniture Tall Grey 92cm or Cat Scratching Tree Post Scratcher Pole Gym Furniture Toy Multilevel 170cm Beige, we may find these also in online pet shop or online feline shop like at activefelinesolutions.com.au or provide your cat with a homemade alternative (such as a piece of old carpet fixed securely around a table leg).
Don’t want your new sofa covered with ripped threads? Teach your cat to use a scratching post so they won’t end up clawing valuable furniture. Cats that scratch your favorite sofa or expensive drapes are not on a mission to destroy your home, but rather to satisfy certain innate needs. Scratching is a marking behavior; it allows the deposition of scent from special glands on the cat’s paws. It also removes the translucent covering, or sheath, over the claws. The scratch marks, along with the claw sheaths left behind, may also serve as displays of confidence.
The mistake many owners make, says Werber, is not knowing that they have to give the scratching post appeal. “Put it in the center of the room to start,” he explains. (Too many people place it in a corner far from the social action in the household, making it easy for a cat to ignore.)
Many owners complain that their cats scratch furniture and carpets, chew on fabric, or munch on houseplants. These are considered destructive behaviors, which can not only result in the loss of valuable items, but can also be harmful to the health of your cat. One common misconception is that cats are “out for revenge” when they destroy household items. But actually, these innate behaviors occur throughout the course of a cat’s normal investigation and play. The good news is that they can be managed. However, cats can be taught to scratch on more appropriate objects like scratching posts and tree stumps.
TACTICS : REDIRECTING CAT’S SCRATCHING BEHAVIOR
Make unacceptable items unavailable or less attractive to your cat.
The only guaranteed way to stop your cat from scratching a given area or object is to block her access to it. Closing doors may be the simplest solution. However, if this is not practical, there are booby traps you can set up to discourage scratching. A tower of plastic cups that topples over when bumped can be placed in front of scratchable items to startle your cat whenever she begins to scratch. Items covered with blankets, sheets of plastic, or double-sided tape also hinders scratching behavior. A more expensive tactic is to purchase an indoor fence that delivers mild, harmless shock when your cat crosses a given boundary.
Because scratching has a scent-marking component, cats are more likely to re-scratch areas that already have their scent. To help break this cycle, try using an odor neutralizer to deodorize areas where your cat has previously scratched.
In addition to altering the accessibility, appearance, or scent of household items, you can further minimize scratching damage by regularly trimming your cat’s nails. Also available are plastic claw caps, or sheaths, that can be glued over your cat’s claws. These should only be applied to cats that allow you to handle and manipulate their paws. While wearing these sheaths, your cat is able to go through the motions of scratching, but because the claws are hidden, no damage is done. The sheaths need to be replaced every six to 12 weeks.
Some owners of dedicated scratchers consider declawing them, but there are consequences to be considered first. Declawing, or permanent removal of the claws, should be considered only as a last resort when the above strategies have been unsuccessful, it is a serious and permanent surgery, the equivalent of having the last joint of all of your fingers removed. Cats experience pain for days afterward, during which they may need alternate litter in their box that won’t further irritate their wounds. And in cases where a cat’s scratching would otherwise necessitate its removal from your home. Declawing will not curb your cat’s desire to scratch, but will prevent scratching damage. Declawed cats are utterly defenseless against attackers and they should never be allowed outside, as they are less able to climb trees or defend themselves. Declawing can also alter a cat’s sense of balance, a danger in any animal that likes to climb. All in all, many veterinarians consider declawing a last resort. Teaching a cat to use appropriate surfaces for scratching is much less traumatic for all involved. Talk to your veterinarian to determine whether this procedure is right for your cat.
In general, cats do not respond well to punishment, because they see no link between the punishment and their “crime.”
Scratching is a normal behavior and shouldn’t be reprimanded. Focus instead on redirecting your cat back to his post with the game. The only thing punishment does is teach your cat to fear you. Worse, it may lead to aggression. Some people recommend remote punishing devices, like attaching inflated balloons to the furniture (so that they will pop when scratched and deter future scratching), but we don’t recommend this. Many cats find it too frightening, and the noise may punish other cats in the household who are doing nothing wrong. Yelling, squirting a water gun, or startling your cat with a loud noise when he scratches the couch teaches him that your presence, rather than the act of scratching, brings punishment. If your cat is punished for scratching only when you are present, he will simply learn to scratch when you are not there. More effective deterrents to scratching—such as the “tower of cups” booby trap mentioned earlier—are consistent and immediate.