Why cats scratch
Scratching is a necessary part
of every cat’s life. Using those
claws helps your cat strengthen
the muscles in his paws; at the same
time, it hastens the shedding of the
outer layers of the nails to keep
them clean and new. It’s the feline
version of going to the nail salon.
Cats also scratch to claim territory. Using the scent glands in his
paws, your cat leaves his mark on
the places he likes best to let other
felines know to stay away. It’s part of
his natural hunting instincts, done to
keep his claws at the ready for the
next big pursuit.
Simply put, cats must scratch to
maintain good paw and nail health.
In nature, this would be necessary so
they can hunt for their dinner. Plus, it
just feels good.
You’ll never be able to stop your
cat from scratching, but you can
redirect those urges to more acceptable places.
Let your cat know that certain
places in your home are off-limits
to his paws of destruction. Protect
sofas and chairs by making them
unpleasant for your cat to touch.
Cover sofas and chairs temporarily
with plastic to make it impossible
for claws to take hold. Use double-sided sticky tape on furniture, as
cats don’t like the sticky feel. You
can also spray furniture and carpets
with an orange-scented spray, as
most cats don’t like the smell of
If you do find your cat clawing
the no-no places, clap your hands
or throw a soft toy for him to chase
so he’s distracted. Because your
cat must scratch somewhere, have
appropriate scratching alternatives
available, so you can guide him to
those “good” scratching places and
away from the no-no spots.
Rita Reimers’ cat behavior
counseling sessions have
helped many kitties remain
happy in their forever
homes. Visit her website,
thecatanalyst.com, to learn
more about her services and to read her
cat behavior blog. Rita is also owner/
CEO of Just For Cats Pet Sitting: just
forcatspetsitting.com. Connect with Rita
on Facebook at The Cat Analyst and on
Twitter at @thecatanalyst
Trimming the nails regularly renders
them relatively harmless. You can
take your cat to a groomer or learn
to do it yourself at home. If you’ve
never trimmed a cat’s nails before,
ask your veterinarian to show you
exactly where to cut.
You can also put nail caps over your
cat’s front claws to make them harmless
to the objects in your home. You can put them
on your cat at home or have your veterinarian
or groomer do it for you. Nail caps last about six
weeks and come in many fun colors, too.
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