Cat scratching behavior – a nuisance or necessity?

What can we mean by scratching and why do cats do it?

If you’ve spent any time with cats you’ll have noticed that they’ll occasionally scratch on items with their front paws and claws. They are doing this by hooking their claws into the fabric and raking against the surface with their paws. Cats will scratch on both vertical and horizontal surfaces but often develop a preference for one or the opposite. Similarly, they will develop a preference for the sort of fabric they wish to scratch. The scratching behavior is normal for cats and that they perform this behavior for a couple of different reasons.

One of the functions of scratching is to sharpen the ideas of their claws and keep them in fitness. If you own a cat you’ll have noticed that the highest coat of your cats’ claws, referred to as the sheath, can become worn and frayed. Scratching allows cats to get rid of this outer sheath which keeps the claws sharp and prepared to be used when climbing, hunting, or in self-defense if needed.

Perhaps the foremost surprising reason for scratching is its use in communication between cats. Cats deposit scents produced by specialized glands between their toes and on the most pad of their foot once they scratch. These scents are often detected by other cats and we believe that they use this as a way of marking out their territory. The visual marks left by scratching are thought to enable other cats to simply locate the scent mark, which provides them with information about the cat who originally left the scent. Whilst we may take more notice of cats scratching inside, cats also perform this behavior outside and you’ll notice scratch marks on fence posts or other prominent areas within the garden. The precise purpose of scratching during this way remains unclear so we’ve more work to try to know this behavior fully.

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