Dec 12 2016

Cat Scratching: Why they do it and what to do about it.

Cats are some of the most independent animals in the world. They tend to do what they want and when they want. So what happens when they begin to scratch up your favorite furniture? Understanding why they are doing it and what to do about it may help you.

Scratching is an instinct that cats have to mark their territory. Cats have scent glands on their paws that help them leave their own personal scent in the area they have scratched. This helps them and other cats know who has been in this area. It can also help keep them in shape as they stretch out to scratch. They are stretching and pulling their front quarter muscles, similar to some Yoga moves. It also brings them happiness. Shredding the scratching post or furniture is like an art to them. The more shredding they see, the more satisfied they may become, as they can see they created this and smell their scent on it too.

So what can you do about scratching if it is a problem? There are several steps that you can take to help. First ensure you have cat scratching posts. Place these in rooms where you and your family are in the most. Your cat wants to have your company. You can place the scratching posts near the furniture you want them to not scratch. Make sure the post is tall enough for them to stretch on. Ensure that it is stable. Never place a scratching post that wiggles or can fall over, as your cat may never return to it. When first introducing the new scratching post, sit next to it with your cat and give him extra treats and love. This will make a positive space for him. Do not grab his paws and scratch them on the post for him. Not only will your cat give you a dirty look, he will also most likely not appreciate it. Let him explore it and start using it on his own.

Once he starts using it, let him shred it as much as he wants. Again, this is an artful masterpiece that he has created. Though visually to you it may look like a big mess, to him, it is happiness. A big mistake that some cat owners make is to get rid of the shredded scratching posts and replace with a new one. All that work your cat did took a lot of effort, so keep it if possible. In a perfect world, getting a scratching post would solve everything, this is not always the case.

Even with adding the scratching posts, is your cat still scratching other furniture? There are other options that you can try.

  • Covering the furniture with double sided tape or foil can cause your cat to avoid the areas as they do not like these textures. If they see this enough times, they may avoid trying again.
  • Have a water filled squirt gun or bottle that you can spray a direct stream of water on to your cat once he goes to scratch the furniture. Most cats do not like water so this may keep them from going back to that spot.
  • Rattle a tin can with several pennies in it when he goes to scratch the furniture. This could spook him enough to want to avoid that part of the furniture for a while.
  • Use an enzymatic cleanser to clean the areas of the furniture your cat has scratched. This could help remove his familiar smell off of it as his territory he claimed with his scent will be gone.
  • Cats have an aversion to citrus. You can use a lemon scented spray or lemon peels on the furniture. This odor may keep your cat away.
  • Trim your cats nails often. Shorter nails may not snag the furniture as bad.
  • Have Soft Paws applied. These are plastic nail caps that are placed over your cat’s nails. They will stay on your cat’s nails until they grow out and the plastic tips fall off. They can last 3 to 6 weeks. You can replace them as needed.
  • Pheromone sprays can also be useful to spray in the environment. These are natural sprays that mimic the pheromone of a cat so they think it is their own scent. This can trick your cat into thinking that their territory has already been marked by them, therefore no need to re-mark the areas. This comes in a spray and a plug-in form.

If you have any questions or would like more information or help with this topic, please give us a call.  (714)771-3261

-Susan Aranda

pethospo | Cat Wellness

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