Is your cat constantly scratching the furniture, is the wallpaper hanging in tatters along the walls or do you want to prevent your cat from destroying your furniture? Maybe your cat already has a beautiful scratching post, but isn’t looking at it? Read here: why cats scratch, how to prevent them from scratching the furniture and how to teach them not to scratch the furniture and wallpaper.
Normal cat behavior or behavioral problem?
Scratching objects is normal cat behavior and therefore impossible to stop. Scratching has several functions. Your cat gets rid of his old worn nail covers and sharpens his nails. Certainly cats who don’t go outdoors will look inside for a place to sharpen their nails. Your cat will also scratch objects to leave its scent on them. Cats give off their scent to all kinds of objects on their route.
For example, they leave a kind of business card for other cats. The scents are also used to mark out the territory. Cats have glands on the underside of their paws and between their toes, with which they can give off scent while scratching. In addition to scratching, cats can also give off scent to objects and places by: giving cups, spraying or not burying their droppings.
A cat that is excited or stressed will often scratch objects more and more intensely as this is a way for the cat to react.
Prevention is better than cure
So why do cats scratch? Cats prefer to leave their own scent in every room in the house and want to renew these scents again and again. Often you will see that the cat starts giving cups to all kinds of objects as soon as it enters the room. The cat also scratches the nearest object as soon as it enters the room. Furthermore, cats like to keep an overview of the space and strongly prefer higher berths with a view. That’s why you should at least place attractive scratching areas in the rooms where your cat stays a lot, which your cat encounters when he enters the room, and at least one high scratching post. In this way, your cat is most likely to use the post instead of the furniture and will also have a nice place to lie high up.
A good scratching post must meet a number of requirements:
The surface must be rough and not too hard.
The cat must be able to stretch out completely while scratching.
The scratching area must be firm and not too quick to fall or wobble.
The scratching post must be placed on or near the cat’s walking routes.
When your cat is already scratching furniture
Often the scratching of furniture occurs because there is no suitable scratching post or because the post is hidden somewhere in a corner. So first of all make sure that there are enough scratching places in the house that meet the conditions mentioned under “prevention is better than cure”. Make these scratching places extra attractive by rubbing them with dried valerian, dried catnip or Feliway spray. You can also put some delicious valerian or dried catnip on top of the climbing posts so that the cat can climb there. Don’t forget to reward your cat for using the scratching post as well!
If cats scratch the furniture but not the scratching post then there can be a number of reasons for this:
The cat already scratched the furniture before the scratching post was there. The cat has already deposited its scent there with the scent glands in the soles of the feet and will return to this place again and again.
The cat scratched the furniture to get attention from the owner. The attention (also shouting NO etc. is attention!) is then the reward, which maintains the behavior.
The scratching post stands on a less attractive spot than the object the cat is scratching now.
The scratching post is not pleasant to scratch, because it is unstable or has too short a scratching area. A good scratching post has a part to scratch on which the cat can reach when it is stretched!
If your cat already has unwanted scratching areas, you can unlearn this habit by doing so:
- Put something else on this spot, so the cat can’t reach it anymore, for example a scratching post or scratching board.
- Temporarily cover the object with something that is not pleasant to scratch, for example aluminium foil, thick plastic or double-sided tape.
- Spray pheromone spray for the cat on the unwanted scratching area.
- If the cat only scratches one or two corners, put an extra corner scratching board in front of it as an alternative for the cat.
- If the scratching post is too small/short or too wobbly, replace it with a more suitable scratching post.
- Regularly lure your cat to the scratching post with toys and rub the scratching post with dried valerian or dried catnip.
- Reward the cat exuberantly and pay attention when it scratches the scratching post instead of the furniture.
- If you suspect that your cat is scratching a lot because it is stressed, also address the cause of the stress as well as possible.
Because of these measures there’s a good chance that the cat will prefer to use the new scratching posts you’ve put out.
I hope this has been an interesting “why do cats scratch” resource for you. Please leave a comment below if you found this post helpful to you.