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Why Do Cats Scratch?

January 7th, 2010

why-cats-scratch.jpgHas your cat scratched your expensive drapes to ribbons? Shredded the upholstery on your favorite sofa? Left a series of deep gouges in your kitchen cabinets? If so, you’ve probably asked yourself, “why do cats scratch?”

Cats scratch for a variety of reasons, but it is important to understand that whatever the reason, this is basically normal cat behavior. Cats scratch to work off their energy, to stretch their bodies and flex their claws, to remove the dead outer layer of their claws, and to mark their territory. Given the fact that cats actually NEED to scratch, there is no point in trying to prevent them from doing so. Instead, focus on directing their scratching away from objects that you value to objects which serve that very purpose.

Does your cat have a scratching tree or post already? If not, then invest in one. Make sure that it has a sturdy base so that it does not tip over when your cat tries to use it and also make sure that it is tall enough for your cat to completely stretch its body when using the tree or post. If your cat has never had a scratching tree or post before it would be a good idea to spray or rub catnip on the post or tree to attract the cat to it. Instinct will take over after that.

If your cat already has a scratching tree or post, but still insists on using your upholstery or wood cabinets, then look into purchasing some scratching mats that you can place near the problem areas. When choosing your scratching mats, try to purchase one that best matches the item already being scratched. For instance, if your cat likes upholstery, find a carpeted or upholstered scratching mat. If your cat prefers paper or cardboard, choose a scratching pad made from corrugated cardboard or paper. Another thing that helps is to cover the upholstery or item that the cat is currently scratching with some plastic sheeting or slippery satiny fabric. Then place a cat scratching mat next to that item. Cats don’t like it when they start scratching and the material under their claws starts sliding around. Your cat should quickly turn its attention to the scratching mat nearby. If your cat ignores the scratching mat then spray or rub some catnip on it. Most cats will quickly choose catnip over plastic sheeting.

Lots of cats like to use the corners of wood cabinets to sharpen their claws on. There are various cat scratching mats that can be hung or even attached over the corner piece so that when your cat goes to scratch, it scratches the mat instead of your wood cabinet or furniture. Again, if the cat seems reluctant to use the substitute, spray or rub catnip on it. There are very few cats who can resist catnip. And if that doesn’t work and your cat really and truly prefers wood to fabrics for scratching, you can find cat trees and posts that are actually made out of wood. Cover the wood that your cat is currently scratching with plastic sheeting or sticky tape and place the wood scratching post or mat nearby.

As long as you provide your cat with plenty of opportunities to indulge in its normal scratching behavior, you should have no problem getting it to leave your carpeting, furniture, and wood alone.

This article on why cats scratch was supplied to us by Nana Weston from Constant Content.

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