Cat Behavior and Psychology

April 2, 2018

Cat Behavior and Psychology

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 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.


To find out what your cat likes best to scratch on, observe her carefully. Does
your cat prefer to scratch on carpets, drapes, wood, or some other surface? Does she scratch vertically, with her paws stretched out above her head, or does she prefer horizontal surfaces? Once you have figured out your cat’s preferred scratching materials and orientation, you will be better equipped to buy a scratching post that suits her needs.

You will need to teach your cat to use this scratching post by holding their paws gently against the post and replicating a scratching motion. You can also make sure the cat sees you (or another cat) scratching the scratching post - although this often results in the cat giving you the kind of look that implies he thinks you are very strange! Provide items that match these preferences scratching posts of all shapes, sizes, and textures are available at most pet stores. If your cat likes to scratch on carpets, a carpet-covered post would be a good choice. But if your cat prefers couches and other nubby surfaces, a post covered in sisal or some other rope-like material might be your best bet.]

The scratching post should also match your cat’s preferred orientation for scratching. A cat that climbs and scratches on drapes would probably prefer a post tall enough for a long stretch, such as those that mount on a wall or door. However, a cat that likes the horizontal motion of scratching on a carpet might be more likely to use a flattened cardboard box, or a log placed on its side.

Some owners get creative and build their own scratching posts and kitty activity centers. You can cover pieces of wood with carpet, fabric, sisal, or other materials, then nail them together to create a “cat tree” with climbing perches. Unless otherwise you don’t have enough time to make one, you may also visit stores in which you can choose different type like in here: This will help keep your cat entertained and satisfy her need to scratch. Any scratching post you buy or build should be sturdy enough so that it does not topple over when your cat uses it, and should be at least as tall as your cat standing on her hind legs with her front legs outstretched.

The proper placement of the scratching post is an important part of redirecting your cat’s scratching behavior. Place the post next to an area your cat likes to scratch. It can then be moved gradually to a location of your choice as your cat develops acceptable scratching habits. If your cat scratches in several locations, provide a post near each of these. Sprinkle the post with catnip when you first bring it home, the vet advises. Cat nip can also help encourage your cat to use a scratching post (the spray on type is the best for this). Once your cat has the idea, remember to discourage her scratching anything else and lift her over to the scratching post every time you see her trying to scratch your furniture. If all else fails, you can try using citrus oil to protect your furniture as cats are not fond of their smell. However, you have to be careful not to damage any furnishings with the oil. You can move it gradually to a less trafficked spot and skip the catnip after you have gotten your pet into the habit of using it. Because it is an innate behavior, scratching is difficult to stop or even curb. It is like trying to stop a cat from grooming, or burying its waste.
Take your cat to the new scratching post, and reward her with treats, strokes, and praise for using it. Some posts come with toys attached. You can find such items here for your cat: You can also place food treats or catnip on top of or around the post as an added enticement. Once you get your cat to use a scratching post, do not discard it when it looks ragged and worn—that means the post is well used and serving its intended purpose!

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.

© 2019 Active Feline Solutions. All Rights Reserved.   Built using Static App Generator.