Essential Guide to Cat Scratching

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Cats will scratch – it’s a natural behavior; trying to stop them is impossible, you might as well ask a fish not to swim. You see your cat will scratch for good reasons.

  • It keeps their claws in good condition
  • It sends a signal

Cats and kittens have scent glands between their pads and these produce a unique smell that is deposited on the surfaces that they scratch. This smell along with the claw marks and the discarded claw husks is a signal or message to other cats as well as to himself.

Related: Why Does My Cat Bite Her Nails?

My cat is scratching the furniture!

Outside your cat may exhibit this natural behaviour on wooden posts or tree trunks, but if he can’t or won’t venture outside then he will have to find a substitute tree indoors in order to keep his claws in good condition. This may be a table leg or the back of a chair; he’ll probably find a couple of places he likes and stick to them for the most part, although the carpet is often an attractive alternative.

If you notice that the areas he chooses to scratch are quite widespread throughout your home and especially in doorways and windowsills, then it is probable that he is trying to communicate that he feels insecure or anxious in these places. The most common reason for him to start scratching is the addition of another cat to your home.

The reason why he scratches may change over time, so as with spraying, you need to be aware of any cause of anxiety. Conversely, he may enjoy your attention and learns that this occurs when he scratches.

How can I protect my furniture?

If your cat has chosen to scratch the furniture or wallpaper to keep his claws in good condition, then the first thing you need to do is to cover the areas with a tough plastic sheet to stop him from doing so. At the same time, place his scratching post next to the areas he’s chosen to scratch. A scratching post or box should have a strong, solid base so that it won’t fall over, and be tall enough to accommodate your cat at full stretch.

Encourage him to use his post by playing with him or adding a swinging toy; this will make it far more interesting than wallpaper. If he resists the idea of a post, try giving it a spray with catnip – that should certainly do the trick.

Once he’s using his scratching post regularly, you can start to remove the plastic covering from the wallpaper and furniture and, given time, you can also move the post to a more convenient location.

Scratching to mark territory

If the above solution does not answer the problem then it’s possible that he’s scratching as a marking behaviour such as we discussed in our Spraying guide. Discover what is making him anxious by following the advice we gave and in the meantime, cover the areas he is scratching with tough plastic and place his favourite scratching post next to it. This on it’s own is not the answer, you must discover what is causing the problem if you are going to eradicate the attacks on your furniture.

Please remember what we said about shouting at him; this is a very negative reaction and the only response you are likely to get is an increase in the unwanted behaviour.

It is possible with the right approach, to cure both scratching and spraying if you follow the guidelines we have laid out here. Unfortunately, there are instances where the cause of this behaviour is quite complex because or the number od things that are causing the problem. If the behaviour persists, please discuss it with your vet who may advise you se meet with an animal behaviourist.

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