Does your cat have a problem with scratching? Has it ruined your leather sofa or ripped apart your living room carpet? If so, it may be trying to communicate with you. Scratching is often a vital means of communication for felines as opposed to a method of sharpening their claws. Having an understanding of the reasons behind your cat’s actions can help it be more contented while keeping your pet/owner relationship a happy and healthy one.
Five Reasons Why Cats Scratch
- Cats will often scratch a window or screen in an attempt to verify there is actually something standing between it and where it wants to be.
- In the wild animals had to be tactical to survive and often this meant burying and saving food for future consumption. When felines scratch at the floor it may be that an old habit dies hard even if it was never wild. When a cat behaves like this it is simply trying to protect its food and ensure its survival.
- Scratching actually has a lot to do with scent. Since a feline has scent glands in the pads of its paws it is actually letting other cats know it is there by transferring this scent to objects.
- Scratching can be perceived as a means of communication for a cat as well as a method of exercise and a way to relieve frustration and stress when it is unhappy about something in its environment.
Since both male and female cats scratch both indoors and out there are varied theories about what it is cats try to communicate through the act itself. What is clear is that cats do not scratch furniture or carpeting for destructive reasons. That said cat owners would be better served to prevent the behavior early rather than trying to rectify it once bad habits have developed.
How to Promote Good Scratching Habits In Kittens
- Place 2-3 scratching posts throughout the home in prominent areas such as the living room or sunroom. These are the areas most used by both the owner and the cat.
- Using the scratching posts for play will encourage a cat to use it instead of furniture and other things. Placing dangling toys near the scratching post or putting catnip in or on the base can help encourage use. Using praise and food will also help to encourage good behavior.
How to Modify the Scratching Behavior of Older Cats
- To avoid further damage to furniture and carpeting and to deter the cat from continued scratching cover the damaged area in thick plastic such as part of a tarp. This renders the area inaccessible to the cat.
- Place a scratching post made of fabric that the cat in question likes to scratch next to the furniture it has damaged and encourage its use.
- Make sure the scratching post remains in a prominent area of your home. A cats likes to feel as though it is a part of things and will not use a scratching post that is tucked into a dark damp corner of the basement.
The thing to do when a cat is scratching is to try and figure out what it is trying to communicate to you. Once the reasons are understood there are methods that can be used to correct a scratching problem even in older cats. In the end however, it is important to remember that reform will take patience and effort from the owner.