Though it can be disquieting and even annoying at times, scratching is considered to be natural cat behavior. In fact, it serves a few functions. Whether we like it or not, cats just like to scratch!
However, what is normal to our tiny furball can become rather frustrating to deal with for pet owners like us, especially when our cat starts to destroy our furniture or even scratch family members.
This article will explain why cats scratch and what you can do to teach them not to scratch your furniture.
The Reasons Behind Scratching
Yes, it is normal for cats to scratch objects around them. They do it because:
- It helps in conditioning their claws by getting rid of its dead outer sheath/layer.
- It is a means of marking their territory by leaving a visual mark as well as their odor through the scent glands on their paws.
- Scratching is a way for cats to stretch their entire body at the same time flexing their feet and claws.
- It is used during play
- It may also be a means for cats to show dominance by scratching in front of other cats.
What Can You Do About it?
Because scratching in cats is a normal behavior, it is not recommended that we keep our cats from doing it. Instead, what owners can do to resolve the scratching issue is by redirecting the scratching onto acceptable objects.
To help you establish tolerable scratching habits in your cat, consider the following pointers:
- For kittens and newly acquired adult cats, provide a few scratching posts in 3 areas most used by your pet, like those areas where he likes to play and rest.
- Rather than purchasing, you can opt to make your own scratching post for kitty. Just make sure that its surface is made of fabric so it would be easy for your pet to shred.
- Encourage your cat to scratch on the posts you provided by making use of food rewards and praises. You can also try playing dangle toys near the post or scenting it with catnip.
- For older cats that have already established a scratching problem, try making the damaged scratching spot unavailable for her. You can cover it with thick plastic or double-sided tape so it feels different; thus, less appealing.
- Place the scratching post right next to the damaged area, and make sure that it is covered with a kind of material that is acceptable to your cat, like those with loose-weaved fabric, rope, carpet, or knubby textures.
Most cats can be gradually taught or retrained to scratch a post and avoid damaging other things in your household like the furniture.
If these guidelines do not help in resolving the issue, try consulting your vet about a referral to a reliable animal behaviorist. Declawing your cat should not be considered. Remember, scratching is a natural behavior and declawing a cat – by amputating the first knuckle on his paws – can cause permanent psychological and physical damage.