Is your cat constantly scratching on the furniture, curtains and carpet? Cat scratching is a natural part of a cats life, but why do they do it and what can you do about it?
Scratching helps to mark their territory
For cats, scratching is a way to mark their own territory. They use their urine as a territorial marking on horizontal surfaces, such as the ground, but when they want to claim a vertical surface, they will scratch to do so. Scratch marks made by a cat claws, are a visual reminder that the area surrounding your cat is their own and other cats should proceed with caution. Cats are relatively non- confrontational, so a scratch from one cat to another is a very threatening sign and really means something.
When moving to a new home, you may notice your cat scratching around the garden and house to claim this new space. They will also display this behaviour if your family introduces a new dog, cat or baby into the mix. They become highly territorial and they see anyone new as a threat to their own space.
Cats express their gratitude for their #hoomans by mixing their scent, with their owners scent. So you may find them scratching areas you spend the most time in, like your bed or the couch. Cats will scratch your bed or chair when they feel you’ve been gone for long time – it’s a behaviour loosely related to separation anxiety.
They need to sharpen their claws
Sometimes cats will feel that their claws are becoming too long or maybe a bit dirty, so they will begin to scratch rougher surfaces such as concrete, brick or timber which will help to file their claws down a little. Scratching helps to remove they frayed, worn outer layer of the claws to expose the new sharper claws below. This is why in many cases you will not need to trim their nails for them because they take care of it themselves.
They scratch during play
Scratching isn’t necessarily a negative or aggressive behaviour. They continue to scratch during play, grooming and stretching and will even do it when purring away happily. Scratching is therapeutic, helping cats to remove any tension in their body and is mentally relaxing.
Unfortunately, sometimes this playful scratching involves owners being used as a scratching post and this is a behaviour that needs to be broken.
How to get you cat to scratch in the right places
While your cat scratching everywhere can be mighty annoying, it’s easy to understand that it is something that they just need to do. So what can you do it to make this behaviour less problematic?
The first starting point is some disciplinary tactics. When you see your cat scratching away on the furniture a stern ‘No!’ or clapping your hands, should help to get their attention away from the scratching. Cats dislike water, so a spritz with a spray bottle during a scratching session will, over time become a deterrent for scratching the furniture. If you find a cat isn’t too phased by a water spritz, the addition of citrus, such as lemon juice, may act as the perfect repellent. Go easy on these options though, as you don’t want your cat to fear you.
Additionally, if you have a room that you’d prefer stayed cat-free then section off the area by shutting the door. Your cat will soon learn that they aren’t allowed in that particular room.
If you’re wondering why your cat is using your furniture for its scratching pleasures, chances are it is because you do not have a scratching post. Your cat didn’t really want to scratch your brand new couch either but because there wasn’t anything better for them to scratch, you left them with no option! The best tactic when dealing with scratching is not to try to stop your cat from scratching, but instead to teach her where and what to scratch. This can be done by providing her with appropriate, cat-attractive surfaces and objects to scratch, such as scratching posts.
If you do have a cat scratcher already, and your feline friend still decides to use your furniture, consider the area that the cat scratcher is in. Is your cat scratcher too hard to get to for your cat i.e. is it in an isolated room or area in your house?
The ideal place to put your cat scratcher is right next to the item of furniture that they love to scratch the most. By doing this, you’re giving them an alternative that is accessible and directly available to them.
Not, all cat scratchers are created equally, so you will need to consider what works best for your cat.
Cats enjoy the opportunity to stretch, so a tall scratching post will allow them to get up on their hind legs and extend fully. Some prefer a vertical grain for raking their claws, while others favour a horizontal grain for picking and marching.
Texture is very important when choosing a scratching post. The most enticing scratchers mimic natural tough, rough surfaces that are sturdy and consist of durable sisal carpet or rope wound around the scratching post. When you are selecting a scratcher, try picking one in a different colour to your carpet and furniture. This will create a distinction between your cat’s scratcher and furniture that you don’t want them to scratch.
When introducing your cat to a new scratching post do not force her to drag her claws on it. Instead, encourage her to investigate the new post by scenting it with catnip and hanging interesting toys on it in positions that she will need to climb to.
If you have multiple cats, you may need to have one scratcher per cat as some cats aren’t too happy about sharing their special scratching territory. You will need to make sure each cat knows who owns each scratcher. You can do this my separating the cats and playing one on one with them and their scratcher, so they will learn which one is theirs.
Check out Creature Concepts great range of cat scratching post options and see what works best for you and your cat.