Why Cats Scratch – It’s Only Natural
Anyone who has cats is aware of they like to scratch – usually on inappropriate locations such because the furnishings. Contrary to what you might assume, your cat doesn’t scratch simply to be naughty.
She’s doing it as a result of she must. Scratching is a pure instinctive feline conduct, which suggests it must be accommodated. Find out why cats have to scratch, and how one can fulfill her wants with out sacrificing your furnishings.
Cats scratch for 4 major causes
“Asking a cat to not scratch is like asking a canine to by no means bark or a hen to not fly,” says Ingrid Johnson, a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant. Here are the 4 major causes cats have to scratch:
- Nail well being — Cats scratch to take away the outer useless sheaths on their nails, and uncover sharp new claws. “A cat’s nail grows in layers, like an onion, and it’s crucial that they take away the outer sheath to keep up nail well being and stop the nail from turning into embedded into the paw pad,” explains Ingrid.
- Territorial communication and scent-marking — Sweat and scent glands situated between the pads of the cat’s toes produce pheromones. Scratching and discarded nail sheaths depart a visible mark, whereas the deposited pheromones depart a scent message for different cats. “Cats desire to depart this scent in high-traffic, socially-significant areas,” says Ingrid.
- Stretching/exercising — Cats scratch with a purpose to stretch, situation and flex their muscular tissues from the entrance legs to the backbone. Many cats scratch after waking or as a part of their stretch sequence.
- Emotional well-being — Cats scratch as a result of it’s a “really feel good conduct,” says Ingrid. They additionally scratch when aroused or excited, or throughout play. Scratching could enhance when your cat feels confused or anxious or when her atmosphere feels threatened.
Scratch this, not that
Scratching is a hard-wired feline conduct that can’t be “unlearned.” But cats can study to scratch acceptable surfaces. First, make the focused space unappealing, then present a wide range of extra alluring scratching decisions.
During the coaching interval, it’s vital to forestall entry to the inappropriate scratching surfaces whereas educating your cat what to scratch as an alternative.
- “I like to recommend ‘booby trapping’ the objects with one thing disagreeable, like double-sided sticky tape,” says Ingrid.
- You may cowl furnishings with a plastic fabric, entire or reduce to suit the world your cat favors, which is usually the arm of a settee or chair.
- Another suggestion is to spray the world with an artificial pheromone that basically sends a message to your cat saying: “You’ve already marked this spot.”
- Monthly nail trims assist forestall harm, as does the usage of nail caps, with out stopping regular scratching conduct.
Set your cat up for scratching success
Provide acceptable, engaging scratching surfaces within the type of a number of scratching posts all through the home. Always reward your cat when she makes use of them. Here are extra ideas for scratching success:
Size: “Scratching posts must be no less than 30” tall and heavy sufficient that they don’t wobble or topple over when in use,” says Johnson.
Shape: Most cats wish to scratch vertically. However, some cats, particularly seniors, desire to scratch horizontally on account of bodily challenges similar to arthritis. Other cats get pleasure from angled scratchers. Giving your cat a alternative is vital.
Texture: “Most cats desire to scratch abrasive textures, which do the perfect job of eradicating the outer nail sheath,” says Ingrid. Preferred substrates embrace sisal rope, corrugated cardboard, carpet or wooden. Let your cat select.
Location: Most cats stretch and scratch after waking up, so put a scratcher close to your kitty’s sleeping space. Also find scratching posts in high-traffic areas that you just and your cat cross by way of every day. “Look at your house as a sequence of highways,” advises Ingrid.
“Where are the intersections? That’s the place your scratching posts ought to go! If your cat is already scratching someplace you would like she wouldn’t, you might have your reply. She is telling you that this space is socially important and that she wants to depart her scent there. Put a put up there.”
Most cats stretch and scratch after waking up, so put a scratcher close to your kitty’s sleeping space.
What to not do
Declawing your cat is rarely the answer. “Declawing is abhorrent cruelty,” Ingrid says. “It is probably the most painful process in veterinary medication.”
Yelling or throwing issues at your cat, or squirting her with water, received’t cease the scratching conduct — however it’ll enhance concern and nervousness in your cat and fracture the bond between you. “I strongly encourage my shoppers to study clicker coaching, and prepare their cats to make use of the scratching put up, which takes all of ten minutes when you might have the suitable put up,” says Ingrid. Then, embrace the ‘reward what you want and ignore what you don’t’ mantra to make sure you aren’t rewarding attention-seeking conduct by scolding the furnishings scratching.”
Scratching is an instinctual conduct for our feline companions. It’s our accountability as cat mother and father to supply them with the suitable outlet for this pure conduct.