Cats have all kinds of different habits. They pick the best seat on the couch, purr, chase, climb and of course scratch things. Unfortunately, scratching can be a source of frustration for many cat owners. However, it is a natural and important behaviour for cats, and understanding the reasons why cats scratch can help keep your feline friend purring and your furniture claw-mark free.
So why do cats scratch? Well, one of the main reasons is to mark their territory. Cats have scent glands on the pads of their paws, and when they scratch an object, they leave behind a small amount of their scent. This helps our feline friends establish their territory and communicate with other cats in the area.
Another key reason why cats scratch is to maintain the health of their claws. Scratching helps cats shed the outer layers of their claws, which reveals shiny and sharp new layers underneath. It also helps put their paw and leg muscles to work, an important thing for any cat both active and less active.
In addition to the reasons above, cats may also scratch as a way to relieve stress or to release pent-up energy. If your cat is feeling anxious or stressed, scratching can be a way for them to express and release that tension, just like some humans squeeze on a stress ball or grit their teeth. While you may find scratching it be annoying, it is important to remember that it is a natural behaviour for cats and it’s not something that can be completely eliminated. However, despite this there are ways to redirect your cat’s scratching away from your furniture and onto appropriate scratching surfaces.
One of the first things to do is to source a nice and sturdy scratching post or pad. This gives them a dedicated scratching area that you can direct them to when they feel the need to get their claws out. You can also try using a deterrent spray or covering the area you want to protect with double-sided tape to make it less appealing to your cat (although the tape method isn’t always practical of course).
In summary, cats scratch for a variety of reasons, including marking territory, maintaining the health of their claws, and relieving stress. While it’s not possible to completely eliminate scratching, there are ways to redirect your cat’s scratching onto appropriate surfaces and protect your furniture. Just remember, scratching is a normal thing and your feline friend isn’t just doing it to annoy you.