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Cat Scratching - All cat owners face the fact that our beloveds can potentially wreck havoc on our furniture. In my house it’s just not the couch that can also double as a giant scratch pad, but many of my wooden door frames. Drapes are not a problem in my house because I do not have any… only blinds. Let me tell you straight up that I am totally against de-clawing.
Why? Because many years ago I had two of my cats front claws removed because someone told me that I had to in order for my cats to reside in a certain living arrangement. I was naïve and knew little of other options; I have grown wise with age. One of my beloved pets life was not only made problematic because of declawing (he really developed physical problems associated with his declawing) this I will cover in another section, but his life was snuffed out prematurely because of it, and I will regret it for the rest of my life!
So let’s go back to the question: Why do Cats Scratch?
You might think that cat scratching behavior is a reflection of your kitty’s distaste for your couch’s upholstery, or drapes… not true. It is important to understand your kitty’s need to scratch, because it is the key to channeling his efforts to more acceptable areas. Cats scratch objects in their environment because it is perfectly normal to do so. These are things you need to understand:
1. Cat Scratching is a natural behavior for cats. This is a fact that you need to understand in order to win the battle to keep your kitty from scratching in undesirable locations.
2. You cannot keep your cat from scratching. We all know that we humans can't make a cat do anything she doesn't want to do. What you can do is have her to stop scratching those items you would like to keep relatively undamaged.
3. Do not punish your kitty. Cats do not understand or comprehend physical punishment. Physical punishment will only make your kitty more insecure and full of anxiety, which will actually make her scratch unwanted surfaces even more or develop other undesirable behavior problems. This goes for any undesirable behavior… physical punishment does not work with cats.
4. Why cats scratch:
• Cat scratching is for the removal of dead outer layer of their claws. It is a misconception that cats scratch to sharpen their claws. Scratching surfaces conditions the claws by exercising muscles and helping to remove the dead outer layer of their claws. You can often find claw layers and pieces on the ground beneath an often used scratching site.
• Cats mark their territory by leaving visual marks and scents produced from glands in their paws. This makes scratching a territorial instinct whereby cats establish their turf. This is one of the reasons why kitty usually marks more of the visible places in your house. This is her way of making her territorial claim of her domain. This is also why cats that have been declawed will go through the behavior of scratching furniture because they are compelled to by instinct.
• Scratching serves to keep your kitty in shape by stretching their bodies and flexing their feet and claws. It especially stretches and works the muscles of the front quarters.
• It feels good. Everyone enjoys a good stretch, especially after a nap. A long stretch is very pleasurable for your kitty.
• It works off energy. During playtime as they run and chase each other they normally scratch their favorite items too. They love to jump up and climb sinking their nails into their cat tree. Watching my cats climb up their cat tree is very amusing.
The point is this, give up the idea of reforming your kitty’s desire to scratch; it’s their nature to do so. What you can do is rechannel her to scratch acceptable things. And believe me, it is not difficult to do, and this will make you both much happier.
Common Cat Behavior Issues: Destructive Scratching from ASPCA