Got a scratcher on your hands? If your cat is clawing up your brand new couch, you may be wondering if you've done something — anything — to deserve the wrath of your cat's nails. Scratching is a natural behavior of felines. Yet, that doesn't make it any easier to deal with the destruction of your household items.
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You adore your cat. You just want to worry less about them scratching the items you cherish most. So, if you're sick of scratch marks on your beloved furniture, and don't want to live at the whim of your cat's claws — look no further! We've compiled all the information you need on the reasons behind a cat's scratching behavior.
Cats and scratching behavior
Sure, cats scratch. But, have you ever wondered why? Cats are natural scratchers with deeply rooted instincts and behaviors. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, cats tend to scratch and claw at their preferred scratching materials for many reasons. This includes:
- shortening and conditioning their claws
- stretching their muscles
- marking territory with their scent glands
- exert their authority
- play and stimulation
Primarily, outdoor cats usually scratch on enticing objects outdoors (such as tree trunks and posts). Indoor cats tend to scratch at furniture — be it a scratching post or their human's beloved sofa.
Why does my cat claw the couch?
Your cat isn't a bad person. Cats just love to scratch. Unfortunately for your couch, cats have a natural instinct to claw on surfaces. Cats also need lots of playtime and stimulation. Indoor cats, in particular, need an outlet for their scratching instinct. To your disappointment, they may look to your couch as a fabulous option for doing just that. If want to address your cat's scratching, look at their patterns, behavior, and reasons for their scratching. Every cat has different play patterns and scratching needs. Therefore, your cat may be scratching the couch for a variety of reasons. This can include:
- territorial instincts
- excessive energy
How to stop a cat from scratching your furniture
Don't lose hope! There are many safe ways to keep a cat from scratching furniture. Teaching your cat where to scratch is the key to protecting the beloved items in your home.
According to the ASPCA, the best way to address destructive scratching behavior is to redirect your cat to another scratching surface. This may include a new scratching post, and spraying catnip on preferred scratching materials. This should attract your cat to another item.
According to VCA Animal Hospitals, some other scratch prevention strategies can include:
- Keeping your cat's nails properly groomed and trimmed
- Luring your cat to the scratching post (with toys, their food bowl, or catnip!)
- Provide alternative scratching options
- Cat-proof surfaces and items you do not want to be scratched
- Play with your cat throughout the day to keep them stimulated
- Decrease your cat's anxiety
- Make physical changes in your home
If you are still having issues with scratching and clawing, you may wish to consult an animal behaviorist or your veterinarian. They can advise you further on how to keep your cat's clawing under control.
Cats claw stuff. It's just a part of life. Cats scratch to alleviate their anxiety, maintain their nails, and establish their sense of dominance and territory. It's also how they play and stimulate themselves! Though if your cat's claws start to take over your life, you do have safe and humane options to help redirect your cat's scratching instincts. Remember: understanding your cat's patterns and personality, as well as a good scratching post, go a long way!