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Pet Health Care Articles

Cat Scratching an Issue?
Make your frustration a thing of the past.

September 28, 2010

It’s an all too common scene – New sofa meets resident cat, or new cat meets resident sofa.  Either way, the outcome can be undesirable and the one left feeling the worst is always the owner. 

 

For cats, scratching is a must-do.  It is a programmed behavior that has an important place in their world.  It is a multi-purpose activity, allowing the cat to get messages across and giving them physical benefits at the same time.  Understanding the reasons for scratching will help owners provide an appropriate outlet for their cat’s habit. 

 

Reasons for scratching:

 

Maintaining nails – Anyone who owns a cat knows that they are excellent groomers.  And that includes their nails. 

 

Marking Territory – Cats have scent glands in their paws.  When they scratch, it can be in part, to leave behind a message that that territory has been occupied.  Additionally, leaving a scratch mark is an even stronger visual marking cue. 

 

Physical release – We all know how refreshing it can be to wake up and stretch, have a good yawn and a cup of coffee to get going.  In lieu of the coffee – which cats can obviously not have – scratching is a great release after a nap.  For a lot of cats, this could occur several times a day. 

 

Attention – Yes, cats are demanding (some would even say bossy!).  Attention needs to come when they tell you and not a moment later.  We’ve all heard the saying – “Dogs have owners, Cats have servants.”  If your cat knows that scratching will get them attention, rest assured scratching will become a habit. 

 

So what can be done to curb this unappealing behavior?  Here are a few tips to get your cat to behave like you want:

 

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Give them an outlet to scratch.  A scratching post is a great way to allow everyone to be happy.  Just be sure that your choosing the right one for your cat, and if at first you don’t succeed, try again with another kind, or a different location.  Determine how your cat prefers to scratch (translation: is the carpet on the floor or the arm of your sofa torn up?).  If your cat prefers the ground, a flat post may be best.  If the later is preferred, a stand up post or one that may attached to a door knob may work.  This day in age, you can even find scratching ‘posts’ that double as artwork for your walls!  Be sure that which ever type of scratching post you choose, the length or height of it is long enough to accommodate your pet’s entire stretch, and keep it in a location your pet really enjoys (i.e. near their favorite napping place).   Lastly, it may help lead your cat to the right spot if you apply some cat nip or cat nip spray right on the scratching post.

 

1461731665_80bb72d3a0.jpg image by tifany1223Soft Paws nail covers.  Maybe you cannot entice your cat to use a scratcher.  Or maybe they just like to use the couch too.  Soft Paws are caps that are applied over their nails that are rounded and smooth.  The cat can use their paws and their nails, but no damage is done.  As the nails grow, the soft paws will need to be replaced; approximately every 4-6 weeks.  Application can be schedule to be done in our office, or you can learn to do it at home.   Visit http://www.softpaws.com/ for more info. 

 

Using a deterrent.  If your cat just won’t stop clawing on your sofa or chair arm, you may consider placing some double sided tape where they scratch.  Obviously they are not going to like that, and if used regularly, along with rewarding appropriate behavior, your cat will learn to scratch where you’d like them too. 

 

Remember that scratching is what cats do.  For all the other things they do, that we love them for, we have to accept the good with the bad.  Even though it may be frustrating at times, a little dedication to getting your cat to behave the way you’d like, makes their companionship even better. 

 

For more information or with any questions you may have about scratching or other cat behaviors, don’t hesitate to give the office a call!