Cats scratch. It’s a natural part of a cat’s routine, deeply engrained in its pre-domesticated heritage. Understanding why cats scratch can help us understand how to work with the often destructive behavior instead of fighting against it in vain.
Why do cat’s scratch?
Scratching removes the translucent sheath over a cat’s claws. The scratch marks, along with the sheaths left behind, also serve as displays of confidence. Because cats have scent glands under their paw pads, they like to spread the love around and make sure that other cats know that this part of the house is theirs — in other words, they are marking their territory.
Cat’s scratch in two distinct positions – down low, such as scratching your mattress while in your bed, and up high, such as scratching the arm of your couch from a seated position on the floor. While some cats respond to sprays designed to repel cats from scratching furniture, for other cats, the desire is too strong to be deterred by these products.
Providing a Scratching Space
It is important to understand that it is not possible to prevent cat scratching. Scratching is a natural need, not a bad behavior. It is only possible to redirect the behavior on appropriate scratching items such as cat scratching pads, blocks, and carpets.
Place scratch pads in areas frequented by your cat, such as your cat’s sleeping and playing areas, and parts of the house frequented by the family, such as the living room couch and bedrooms. Adding catnip can help entice your cat to use the scratching surface. Check out scratching pads that have catnip scent infused into the surface, or sprinkle organic catnip on top of the cat scratching surface.
Provide a variety of angles for scratching to satisfy both vertical and horizontal scratching needs. Some scratching pads are designed to hang vertically on doorknobs, while others lie flat on the ground. Some scratching pads are integrated into larger lounging and play structures, providing a variety of textures and angles. Experiment to find out what works best for your unique cat.
By working with your cat’s natural scratching needs, you can help your cat continue to express his instincts while helping to ensure that you, your cat, and your furniture can continue to live together in harmony.