Why do cats scratch?
Cats scratch with their front claws by dragging them downward, either on a horizontal or surface – this action, mentioned as stropping, loosens and removes the outer husk of the claw revealing a pointy new surface underneath.
It also exercises the muscles of the forelimbs and spine to stay the cat in tip-top condition for hunting. Some cats will scratch by lying down and pulling their body weight along the ground. The surfaces chosen are usually fixed and non-yielding to resist the force exerted by the cat.
Scratching is additionally used as a sort of territorial communication or marking behavior. Scent and sweat glands in between the pads of the feet mix to supply a singular smell. When claws are scraped down a surface, the scent is deposited and therefore the combination of the mark, discarded claw husks, and therefore the smell provides a robust visual and scent message to other cats.
Evidence of scratching outdoors can often be found on trees, fence posts, sheds, and wooden gates, for instance, all strategically important locations during a cat urban area. Similar surfaces outside also will be utilized for claw maintenance. Unvarnished woods and tree bark are the foremost natural surfaces to scratch as they supply an ideal level of resistance to the action and show a robust visual cue when used regularly.
Why does my cat scratch indoors?
Many cats nowadays have limited or no access to outdoors. There also are people who prefer to spend longer within the comfort and safety of the house and just feel more relaxed about maintaining their claws during a secure environment!
Scratching also can be used as a precursor for play or maybe as an attention-seeking tool by the more manipulative and social individuals. Popular substrates indoors include softwoods (eg, pine), fabrics, textured wallpaper, and carpet. Popular locations include door frames, furniture, and stairs.
Cats will often scratch vigorously within the presence of their owners or other cats as a symbol of territorial confidence.
How do I know if the quantity of scratching my cat does is normal?
If the scratched locations are widespread throughout the house, particularly around doorways and windows, then it’s likely that your cat is signaling a general sense of insecurity. Whether the scratching represents claw maintenance, marking or both depends on the dynamics of your cat household, the pattern of locations, and various other factors. albeit the extent of scratching is normal for your cat, if attractive scratching posts or areas aren’t provided indoors it’s likely that damage will occur to furniture, wallpaper, or carpet!
What am I able to do to prevent my cat from scratching my furniture and carpets?
If you’ve got owned your cat from a kitten it’s important that it’s familiar with handling and restraint at an early age. If a cat becomes wont to claw trimming as a kitten then this may be tolerated as an adult and can prevent damage to furniture. However, this could only be undertaken if your cat is kept exclusively indoors because it may have those sharp claws for defense against attack and to urge out of trouble.
Claw trimming, however, won’t be the entire answer – if a specific surface or object is being damaged it’s important to supply a suitable alternative that gives an identical experience when used. for instance, if your cat is scratching textured wallpaper at a particular height it’s advisable that the choice scratching area is vertical with similar texture and striations that permit the cat to stretch to an equivalent level.
Commercially available scratching posts range from a basic single upright structure with an important base to an elaborate floor-to-ceiling modular unit that gives many opportunities for play, exercise, and resting also as a spread of surfaces to scratch. In multi-cat households, it’s advisable to supply one scratching post per cat (plus a further one for choice) positioned in several locations.
The choice of design depends then on budget and space available. If space is a problem then scratching panels are often fixed to walls, either using homemade or commercially available products. Sections of carpet are often attached to walls using double-sided carpet tape and wooden batons attached at the highest and bottom (using rawl plugs and screws) for added security. The carpet chosen to supply an appropriate surface for scratching should be a loop-weave to supply the acceptable degree of resistance. it’s also essential that it’s positioned to permit the cat to scratch at full stretch (remember that kittens grow very quickly so full stretch for them won’t be high enough!!).
Commercially available panels of sisal twine, bark, or corrugated board also can be attached to walls to make an identical scratching area.
Use of Feliway (manufactured by Ceva Animal Health), also can be beneficial, as this provides a way of security and reassurance to the cat, making scratching for territorial reasons less likely to occur.
Frequently asked questions
I’ve bought a scratching post, why won’t my cat use it?
Some scratching products are too lightweight to resist scratching or can’t be fixed to rigid surfaces. These tend to not be favored by cats thanks to the shortage of resistance when used. it’s also important initially that the post, scratching panel or modular ‘cat-aerobic’ center is found in a neighborhood your cat frequents on a daily basis. Placing it in a neighborhood that’s convenient to you but not visited by your cat will guarantee that it’s ignored!
As cats often scratch after a period of sleep it’s going to be useful to put a post near a favorite bed. the sort of scratching product chosen should include upright posts that are tall enough to permit the cat to scratch at full stretch.
Some commercially available posts are impregnated with catnip. this is often a dried herb that’s extremely attractive to several cats and its presence will often draw attention without much effort. Once the cat has approached the scratching post an easy predatory-type game (involving a bit of string attached to a feather, for instance ) around the base will encourage the claws to form contact with the surfaces. Often this may be sufficient to encourage further visits. If the scratching post has several levels then placing tasty dry food on the modular surfaces may encourage the less playful cat to research.
Scratching posts are covered in carpet, won’t that encourage my cat even more to wreck my stairs?
Although many commercially available scratching posts are covered with carpet there’s no evidence that the cat’s scratching habits will generalize to other areas of carpet within the house once the post is employed regularly.
I’ve bought a scratching post, my cat uses it but still uses the sofa – what should I do?
If scratching has damaged furniture, it’s possible to discourage your cat from future visits to an equivalent location. Low tack double-sided tape (the adhesive on the tape will attract atmospheric dust and fibers so it’s going to be necessary to put a fresh strip over the first on a day to day if the cat is persistent.) are often stuck over the world and this may provide an unpleasant (but not dangerous) experience when your cat next scratches there. it’s essential to make sure that the tape isn’t too sticky since it could damage paws and fabric. This method is often employed once there are acceptable scratching posts nearby to use as an alternate. Commercially available double-sided adhesive sheets are often purchased from some household cleaning suppliers specifically for this purpose.
There are various commercial scratching deterrents on the market that will be sprayed on the damaged area to stop further approaches but they are doing emit a robust odor that’s offensive to humans too and that they got to be regularly reapplied to be effective.
What if my cat is damaging wooden surfaces?
If wooden furniture, doorframes, or banisters are damaged by scratching it’s important to get rid of all traces of the scratch marks by rubbing down with fine sandpaper and treating the world with a thick layer of furniture polish once the surface is smooth again. Suitable posts or scratching panels should be located nearby. If the world isn’t ideal for a free-standing scratching post on a permanent basis then it is often relocated slowly (an inch at a time!) to a more convenient position once it’s getting used regularly for furniture.
What if the carpet is damaged?
Many cats target the lower tread on staircases and scratch horizontally whilst lying down. Place low tack double-sided tape over the damaged areas (warn the family to not step on it!) and supply a scratching area nearby. If the cat grips the stair on opposite sides of the proper angle, providing both vertical and horizontal scratching surfaces, it’s important that the choice offers an equivalent opportunity. for instance, a cinder block covered in the carpet is going to be heavy enough to resist the pull of the scratching action, is often used for both vertical and horizontal scratching, and is definitely located nearby.
What if the wallpaper is damaged?
Thin sheets of Perspex are often moved size and fitted over the damaged area of wallpaper using screws and rawl plugs if appropriate. This surface is going to be unattractive to scratch since it’s smooth and it’s also easily cleaned to get rid of any scent deposits. The double-sided tape also can be used over the affected area if the wallpaper is sufficiently damaged to need replacing. Whichever deterrent is employed it’s essential to supply a vertical scratching panel of an identical height nearby.
Should I punish my cat for scratching the carpet?
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It’s important to recollect that your cat isn’t doing this just to be naughty. If the motivation is claw maintenance then you’re punishing a natural behavior (very confusing for the cat) or if your cat is scratching excessively thanks to anxiety and insecurity, then the punishment will increase its distress and doubtless make things worse.
How do I know if my cat’s scratching is anxiety-related?
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If the scratching is widespread, you’ve got a multi-cat household and/or you reside during a densely cat-populated territory the scratching could also be anxiety-related. Even major building work within your home may trigger intensive scratching as your cat adjusts to its altered territory.
There are often tensions within multi-cat households or territories that aren’t easily identified by owners. the answer to territorial marking lies in identifying the explanation for the individual cat’s stress. Once this has been established it’s going to be possible to decrease the cat’s anxiety by providing additional resources within the house to stop competition between members of the group, for example. Making environmental changes within the house also will increase the cat’s feelings of security and safety. a method of probably increasing security is to use synthetic feline pheromones that mimic present secretions that each one cat produces from glands in their cheeks. Cats use this scent to mark their territory and therefore the smell gives them a way of security and reassurance. Research has shown that cats won’t scratch or spray urine in areas where this pheromone is deposited. a neighborhood of this scent is common to all or any cats and an artificial version called Feliway® (manufactured by Ceva Animal Health) is out there in spray and diffuser form (this plugs into an electrical socket).
If you’re suspicious that the scratching is anxiety-related then you ought to contact your veterinarian for general advice or a referral to a behavior specialist.
Choosing a scratching post for your cat
Cats got to scratch to stay their claws sharp, exercise and stretch their muscles and mark their territory.
If you fail to supply a suitable area to scratch then your carpets, furniture, and wallpaper may get damaged. Once a cat finds a beautiful area to scratch they’re going to always return to it! Scratching posts are available in all shapes and sizes and are an important addition to your home. They often include upright wooden posts covered with thick sisal twine or carpet along with side platforms, beds, hiding boxes, and dangling toys for the more energetic individuals. Scratching posts are often free-standing or designed to repair a wall or floor.
Before you select one for your cat you’ll want to think about these criteria:
- Ensure the post is rigid; cats need resistance once they scratch to try to to the simplest job
- Make sure it’s tall enough for your cat to scratch at full stretch. If you purchase one for your kitten you’ll get to change it when it grows up
- Make sure you offer opportunities for your cat to scratch both horizontal and vertical surfaces
- If it’s a tall modular scratching post with various platforms and bed attachments it must be stable. there’s nothing worse than a tall scratching post that falls over when your cat launches itself at full speed
- If you buy a tall scratching unit that, once assembled, seems unstable, you’ll get a more rigid unit if you attach it via a bracket to the wall
There is a variety of ways to make sure your cat makes use of any available scratching post. it might be most engaging if you place it near a window or radiator during a room your cat particularly favors, particularly if it’s one among the larger designs that incorporate platforms and beds within the structure. Cats wish to stretch and scratch once they first awaken so it’s always beneficial to possess a suitable scratching area near your cat’s bed.
don’t encourage your cat to scratch by grasping its paws and showing it what to try to or pay particular attention to the scratching post when it first arrives as this might well dissuade your cat from going anywhere near it! If your cat doesn’t show any interest within the post then try sprinkling a touch dry catnip plant over the bottom, or play a game together with your cat with a fishing pole toy around the post or panel to encourage a connection between claws and therefore the scratching surface; this often promotes scratching. you’ll even try placing a little few dry foods on one among the platforms, if it’s a tall modular post, to encourage your cat to leap up and explore.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on scratching posts; a number of the foremost popular ones are ingenious designs using only corrugated board. If space is a problem in your home you’ll always purchase a flat panel that will be fixed to your wall at the acceptable height. You can, of course, be adventurous and make one among your own. Don’t worry about inadvertently training your cat to use your carpets if you cover the post with an identical material if you’re making your own then use a bit of hard-wearing carpet recommended for heavy traffic areas and it’ll be more durable and doubtless remain the sole target for your cat’s claw maintenance.
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