Why Do Cats Scratch

Why Do Cats Scratch?

Over 25% of households who own pets own cats. Of those 25% of pet owners, there are likely thousands of scratched sofas, doors, carpets and maybe even arms, because kitties do love to scratch! 

If you have ever wondered – ‘why do cats scratch?’ As you look miserably upon your torn up furniture and your cats cute, innocent face, we have all the answers. In this article you can find out why cats scratch, and most importantly, what you can do about it to keep your cat happy, and to keep yourself, and your belongings scratch-free: 

So, Why Do Cats Scratch?

If you have wondered ‘why do cats scratch things?’ The fact is that it is a totally normal behaviour for them to have. 

Common healthy reasons cats scratch: 

  • Cats scratch for the good of their health, stretching out their muscles and to keep their nails sharp and in good shape. They even shed the dead bits of nail, which are those little nail-like sheaths you see lying around areas your cat scratches.
  • Cats also scratch to spread their scent and say ‘hey, this is my patch’ to any other creature in the area.
  • Cats scratch to express stress, excitement, frustration or happiness

In order to fulfil your cat’s needs to scratch you need to provide them with plenty of desirable opportunities to scratch. Ideally, this is a scratching post that is: 

  • Tall enough for them to stretch their entire body up and scratch on their tippy toes
  • Secure and unable to wobble when they use it
  • Of a material they enjoy using, such as corrugated cardboard or sisal
  • Placed in an area they like to scratch already

You should, ideally, have multiple scratching posts in different locations so that your cat is always within easy reach of somewhere to scratch. You might want to pay particular focus to the areas they already scratch. Sometimes when we wonder ‘why do cats scratch furniture?’ The answer is as simple as – because they have nothing else too scratch. For many people offering these kinds of products for cats to use instead of the carpet or the floor resolves any unwanted scratching issues. 

Destructive Cat Scratching

Destructive cat scratching is when cats scratch in a way that is unhelpful to you, the owner and it also indicates a potential problem with their health and happiness.

The most important thing to do is to find out why the cat is scratching things they shouldn’t be, and then deal with that problem. 

If you’re wondering ‘why do cats scratch you?’ The chances are your cat is either angry, or they are playing too rough. If they are angry you’ll need to figure out if they are stressed, bored or they are unwell. In most instances you should get them checked by a vet if they are suddenly angry and scratching as this indicates pain. Otherwise you can work on calming your angry cat by reducing stress in their environment by playing with them more, or actively encouraging them to play without biting or scratching you, as indicated in this video

If you are wondering ‘why do cats scratch the floor?’ or ‘why do cats scratch the carpet?’ Then the chances are they are only being destructive because they have no other options. It is the same answer to those questions as the answer to ‘why do cats scratch posts?’. 

As we mentioned above, cats scratch for their health and so if you haven’t provided adequate scratching options for them, like multiple high-quality scratching posts, then they will resort to tearing up your home. 

Cats Don’t Do Right Or Wrong

It is important to remember that cats do not know right or wrong, they aren’t malicious and they aren’t satisfying their needs to somehow annoy you. However, cats can be trained with positive reinforcement. They should never be punished for doing something wrong as they do not respond to that kind of training and it could destroy your bond with them. They may also simply do the bad behaviour when you are not around, or even to seek your attention, even if that attention is negative.

Instead, offering them the chance to change their destructive scratching behaviour with scratching posts and rewarding their better behaviour will result in a change in their habits. You can find out more about positive reinforcement training with cats in this Youtube video from Jackson Galaxy

A Little Note About Declawing

Declawing is an incredibly cruel practise that some people mistakenly are led to believe is like having your nails trimmed. Instead, it disfigures kitty and leaves them our version of fingers cut off at the first knuckle. It can cause them to have issues walking, back pain, infections and they can suffer long-term pain and they may struggle to groom. Worst of all, they may start biting because they cannot naturally scratch. Please read more about this on the Humane Society website if you are considering this kind of procedure. 

You Can Help Your Kitty Scratch This Bad Habit

The fact is that cat scratching is normal and important. It is behaviour that can and should be encouraged, but in a way that keeps you and your home protected. With the right checks, accessories and training your kitty can scratch to their heart’s content whilst your furniture and other belongings stay in great shape.

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