Scratching Behavior in Cats – How to Manage Scratching in Cats

Scratching is a basic feline behavior. Cats engage in the behavior for many reasons, including marking of their territory, keeping their nails trimmed, to stretch out the muscles of the shoulder and the back, and as an outlet to express their frustrations, anxiety, and even relief.

For some cat owners, having their pet cat declawed is an easy and convenient solution to the problem. However, before following in their footsteps, you should know what declawing entails. It is actually a surgical procedure which, when performed will have irreversible results. It is similar to having the last joint of all the fingers and toes removed. Declawing is a truly painful experience for a cat, even weeks after the procedure. Without claws, a cat is deprived of his first and major line of defense. Since a cat normally walks on the tip of his toes, losing his claws can mean a loss of sense of balance.

These are just some of the important reasons why veterinarians usually recommend declawing as a last resort for scratching problems in cats. To make it less traumatic for you and your pet, it is best to know how to manage the behavior and deal with the problem in a less drastic way.

The right scratching post

When you are looking for a scratching post for your kitty, make sure to consider the following factors—height, material, and sturdiness.

The scratching post should be high enough to allow a cat to stretch its back muscles. Since they like to scratch on surfaces with a rough-texture, look for one that is wrapped in sisal. A sturdy and well-constructed post has lesser chances of tipping over.

Introduce the post to your kitty

If your pet has been scratching on your carpet or furniture, try enticing him away from these “illegal” scratching areas to his scratching post. Place the new post in the middle of the room where your kitty usually spends time playing and engaging in the behavior. You can hold his paws and gently run his claws over the surface. If he continues to ignore his scratching post and goes back to scratching the carpet or furniture, rub some catnip on the post to get his attention and lure him back to his “legal” scratching surface. You can also dangle his favorite toy near or over the post. Once he comes close or sniffs at the post, be quick to offer positive reinforcement such as a bite of his favorite treat.

Discourage the behavior

There are various ways to make the furniture unappealing to your kitty. Try covering it with a sheet while placing the new scratching post nearby. A water-soluble adhesive can be applied on areas where your kitty loves to scratch frequently.

Other ways to deal with the behavior include placing plastic caps over the cat’s nails, and regular claw trimming.

I hope this has helped you out :)

Sarah Walker
Sarah Walker