Scratching Behaviors And Dealing With Them
Cats have a reputation for scratching furniture and even humans. Scratching, on the other hand, is a perfectly natural and acceptable behavior for cats. On any given day, cats are known to scratch both vertical and horizontal surfaces. Scratching the side of a tree trunk for a vertical surface, and dirt or grass for a horizontal surface, is a common activity for outdoor cats.
Cats scratch to indicate their territory, which is one of the main reasons they scratch. Cats’ paws have smell and sweat glands, and when they scratch something, their unique scent I.D. is added to the object they’re scratching. This aroma, when combined with the more visible scratch marks on the object being marked, provides a clear message to other cats. Scratching habits are used by cats for a variety of reasons, including:
- Muscle, joint, and ligament stretching
- Nail sharpening
- Digging in the litter tray for their pee or feces
- Another form of communication is expressing actions to other cats.
- Finally, since they can’t help them sometimes — they like it.
Whether you like it or not, your cat is going to scratch! When dealing with this habit in your home, the most crucial issue is how we govern where and when they scratch.
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1. Get Your Cat To Scratch The Appropriate Objects
First and foremost, it is a great idea to have dedicated places in your home that are set up with objects that your cat can happily scratch. Find a scratching post that is perfectly suited for your cat’s natural desire to want to scratch both horizontal and vertical surfaces. Having Hi-Lo scratching posts around your home will help keep your cats scratching on something allowable, and keep them away from scratching something forbidden. Thankfully, like other Hepper pieces, the Hi-Lo scratching post also looks good in your home, rather than the typical carpet-laden scratching posts of days gone by.
Because scratching posts are seen as a place for your cat to leave its scent and gain some territorial confidence, it is best to have a scratching post in each of the common areas of your home. If you have several cats, then having the scratching posts in these common, ‘neutral’ areas will be less stressful than the cats potentially scenting each other’s safe place’. In most cases, it will be the scratching post your cat notices first as he or she enters a room. This is primarily because of the combination of the visual appearance of the post, and the scent from the cats that have been using it.
The horizontal and vertical nature of a scratching post, its size, and the texture of the scratching area, all mean it will prove to be very popular for your cats. Letting them scratch away on an appropriate and effective object like this will also work toward keeping them territorially confident. In fact, the best way to confirm this is to see how often they use the Hi-Lo post in front of you. A cat scratching directly in front of its owner is typically a very territorially confident one.
2. How to Deal With Scratching Behaviors
If you are dealing with a situation where your cat is scratching at something that you deem to be inappropriate (say your new leather couch, or nice carpet) then it is important to try and redirect them on to something they are allowed to scratch. This may mean initially limiting their access to the area of the object they seem to have an affinity for sticking their claws into.
With time, you can introduce an appropriate scratching tool such as a scratching post to the area. Sprinkling any scratching post with a few treats and catnip is a surefire way to divert their scratching attention, leading them away from inappropriate objects your cat has been scratching. For all of the reasons mentioned above, keeping your cat’s nails at a reasonable length is crucial to minimize any damage should your cat scratch something he or she shouldn’t. Older cats that don’t move around as much are very prone to ingrown nails so be extra vigilant with older cats. Ingrown nails are extremely painful and completely preventable with the right care and regular nail checks.
3. Trim Their Nails
Depending on how active your cat is, you may need to cut their nails every 2 to 4 months.
It’s sometimes simpler to have your cat’s nails cut at your local veterinarian clinic, as having someone hold your cat while you try to expose each nail and trim the right area of the nail can be tough. You could attempt clipping your cat’s nails at home if you have a well-behaved cat and a gentle assistant who can hold your cat for you.
To begin, go to your local veterinarian clinic or pet store and get a good pair of cat-specific nail trimmers. It’s crucial to understand how their nails work and where you can and can’t cut them before you start trimming them. It may take some time to get the knack of exposing each of your cat’s nails, but with a little practice, you’ll get the hang of it. Gently extend the paw and, one at a time, give light pressure to the top and bottom of each ‘knuckle’ nearest to the paw’s nail. This should lengthen the nail enough for you to notice it. You should be able to see the quick where the blood vessels and nerves are once you’ve seen it. Always keep your cut well away from this area.
Again, this isn’t a simple task, and it’s frequently best left to the professionals at your local veterinarian clinic. This will also eliminate any tension associated with the nail clipping process, which will benefit your cat-friendly home environment as well as your relationship with your cat. Irrespective of where you decide to trim your cat’s nails, it is always easier to do it as a matter of course if the process is started at a young age. Trimming your kitten’s nails gently is the best way to get them used to the practice, as long as you can do it without causing stress.
Should My Cat Be Declawed? (NO!)
In the United States, one out of every four cats is declawed. Declawing is a dangerous surgical procedure in which the first joint of each toe is amputated by the veterinarian. The surgery, which may inflict great discomfort to the cat, is so controversial that it has been forbidden in 22 nations. Declawing is not recommended by the majority of cat behaviorists. Because of the cat’s movement, it can cause arthritis in the hips and back, as well as behavioral issues including inappropriate elimination.
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What about a cat that is already declawed?
You may have adopted a shelter cat that had been declawed in a prior home, or you may have had your cat declawed at some point in the past. In these situations, your cat will still be itching to scratch. You might try to assist her by purchasing a scratching post made of carpet rather than sisal. Her powerful cat toes have an easier time grip the fabric. He’ll be able to stretch his back, relieve stress, and leave his scent traces on his land thanks to the post. Also, make sure your cat’s paws are clear of sores by using a soft (not sandy) litter. To be clear, we do not advocate declawing and strongly advise all pet owners to avoid it at all costs!
Will a Scratching Post Really Stop My Cat From Scratching the Furniture?
Some folks say a scratching post didn’t work for them. This is most likely due to the fact that they have yet to locate the appropriate position. What characteristics do you look for in a scratching post? Look for a foundation with a lot of room. The post will be more stable as a result, and a wobbling post will irritate a cat. If a sisal post didn’t work, try a carpet, cardboard, or wood post instead. You may also give your cat a choice between a horizontal and a tall vertical post to determine which one he prefers. Sprinking a little catnip about the post or expressing interest in it yourself will sometimes be enough to entice the cat to use it.
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