Anybody who has cats is aware of they like to scratch – typically on inappropriate locations such because the furnishings. Opposite 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 natural instinctive feline behavior, which suggests it needs to be accommodated. Discover out why cats have to scratch, and how one can fulfill her wants with out sacrificing your furnishings.
Cats scratch for 4 primary causes
“Asking a cat to not scratch is like asking a canine to by no means bark or a chicken to not fly,” says Ingrid Johnson, a Licensed Cat Habits Guide. Listed here are the 4 primary causes cats have to scratch:
- Nail well being — Cats scratch to take away the outer lifeless 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 positioned between the pads of the cat’s ft produce pheromones. Scratching and discarded nail sheaths go away a visible mark, whereas the deposited pheromones go away a scent message for different cats. “Cats favor to depart this scent in high-traffic, socially-significant areas,” says Ingrid.
- Stretching/exercising — Cats scratch as a way to stretch, situation and flex their muscle groups 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 habits,” says Ingrid. Additionally they scratch when aroused or excited, or throughout play. Scratching might improve when your cat feels pressured or anxious or when her surroundings feels threatened.
Scratch this, not that
Scratching is a hard-wired feline habits that can’t be “unlearned.” However cats can study to scratch acceptable surfaces. First, make the focused space unappealing, then present quite a lot of extra alluring scratching selections.
In the course of the coaching interval, it’s essential to stop entry to the inappropriate scratching surfaces whereas instructing your cat what to scratch as a substitute.
- “I like to recommend ‘booby trapping’ the gadgets with one thing disagreeable, like double-sided sticky tape,” says Ingrid.
- You too can cowl furnishings with a plastic fabric, complete or lower to suit the realm your cat favors, which is commonly the arm of a settee or chair.
- One other suggestion is to spray the realm with an artificial pheromone that primarily sends a message to your cat saying: “You’ve already marked this spot.”
- Month-to-month nail trims assist forestall harm, as does the usage of nail caps, with out stopping regular scratching habits.
Set your cat up for scratching success
Present acceptable, engaging scratching surfaces within the type of a number of scratching posts all through the home. All the time reward your cat when she makes use of them. Listed here are extra ideas for scratching success:
Measurement: “Scratching posts needs to be a minimum of 30” tall and heavy sufficient that they don’t wobble or topple over when in use,” says Johnson.
Form: Most cats wish to scratch vertically. Nonetheless, some cats, particularly seniors, favor to scratch horizontally as a consequence of bodily challenges corresponding to arthritis. Different cats get pleasure from angled scratchers. Giving your cat a alternative is essential.
Texture: “Most cats favor to scratch abrasive textures, which do the very best job of eradicating the outer nail sheath,” says Ingrid. Most well-liked substrates embody 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. Additionally find scratching posts in high-traffic areas that you simply and your cat go via every day. “Have a look at your house as a collection of highways,” advises Ingrid.
“The place are the intersections? That’s the place your scratching posts ought to go! In case your cat is already scratching someplace you would like she wouldn’t, you’ve got your reply. She is telling you that this space is socially vital and that she wants to depart her scent there. Put a publish 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’s the most painful process in veterinary medication.”
Yelling or throwing issues at your cat, or squirting her with water, gained’t cease the scratching habits — however it’s going to improve concern and nervousness in your cat and fracture the bond between you. “I strongly encourage my purchasers to study clicker coaching, and prepare their cats to make use of the scratching publish, which takes all of ten minutes when you’ve got the suitable publish,” 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 habits by scolding the furnishings scratching.”
Scratching is an instinctual habits for our feline companions. It’s our accountability as cat mother and father to offer them with the suitable outlet for this pure habits.