Has your cat ever destroyed your newly bough armchair, or scratched the expensive wallpaper after a recent home repair (done due to scratching, in the first place)? You are not alone, scratching is among most common behavior problems reported by cat owners.
But did you know it’s not actually a problem for your cat? Scratching is a 100% natural behavior for him, and, in order to solve your problem, you first have to understand why your cat is scratching.
- Sharpening of claws is, probably the reason that comes first in mind. It actually is not sharpening, but an act of getting rid of old and crippled claw parts; thus, it may be described as a sharpening. If you have a scratching post (or a sofa) which your cat uses a lot, you will find small particles of claws around it all the time.
- Territory marking is crucial for every cat, despite the belief that it’s done by intact male cats only. So the scratching gives two types of markings. First, it leaves visual signs on the object, which can be seen by other cats, second, it also leaves the scent from the paw pads of the cat. The first one, obviously stays longer, but can still be scratched over by other cats. However, it does not mean that cat scratching your sofa claims it as his property. Neither tells others something like: “Come closer and I will scratch your eyes out!” No, the messages left by scratches may be more associated to people craving marks, like “Mario was here, World Peace! 22.02.2013”. So other cats approaching can be aware of the fact Mario indeed was here, as well as how long ago he was here, and what are his intentions.
- Muscle stretching is another benefit cats get from scratching. The cat drives his claws in the surface, and stretches himself backwards, or downwards. It gives an extremely beneficial exercise, which you can try yourself by hanging in a branch. It’s immediate effect, and doing it daily can make you feel better all the time. This is why it’s necessary to have stable cat tree which is high enough for your cat to stretch to his full length, or either a scratching pad which is fixed to a wall at an appropriate height.
Understanding three above reasons why cats scratch, makes an enormous difference when trying to save your furniture. All three mentioned above tell that cats need scratching on a daily basis, the second one tells that cats need to scratch on several locations in their territory, so having one post in the corner of the basement will not work. The third one also tells that the size matters. The larger and the more stable the scratching post, the more advantage will it be to your cat.
But most importantly, they all tell that scratching is a natural behavior of a cat, so, instead of blindly training a cat not to scratch, which is not possible, by the way, you now have a tool to redirect this behavior to more appropriate places.