Scratching Behavior in CatsJanuary 15, 2021
Cats scratch to mark their territory, to sharpen their claws, in grooming themselves and for pleasure. With a little effort and an understanding of feline behavior, it is possible to preserve your home and your skin.
Scratching is a natural feline behavior, there’s no value in trying to eliminate it, instead, positive reinforcement methods and approved scratching areas or posts can make all the difference.
Give your indoor cats a sturdy scratching post, or an area specifically designated for scratching. Make this area as appealing as possible by ensuring that it has a good scratching surface and is sturdy enough to lean against and jump up on. Different cats are attracted to different scratching surfaces and multiple posts may be necessary; provide both horizontal and vertical surfaces. If necessary sprinkle these posts with catnip to further entice your cat away from the area they are currently scratching.
Use some of these positive disciplinary methods for stopping your cat if she is scratching something inappropriate, and consider cat proofing these areas while you are away. Use positive reinforcement when she is “caught” scratching her post. Redirect negative behaviors, and be kind. She isn’t targetting your expensive couch – she just likes what it feels like when she scratches it.
Keep her nails trimmed. Ask your veterinarian for tips if necessary. Be gentle, loving and respectful while trimming her nails and she’ll learn to trust you and the process.
If you find you are unable to control your cat’s destructive behavior, or if there are children or elderly people in your home who are at risk, talk to your veterinarian. Scratching is a natural feline behavior. Your goal should not be to stop it, only to redirect it. Cats can learn that furniture and humans are not acceptable scratching posts and you can peacefully co-exist with your sweet cat, your pretty furniture and your beautiful skin intact, with just a little patience and some good alternative scratching surfaces.