Scratching comes naturally to cats; it's in their DNA. They do it when they play, stretch, or groom themselves, and sometimes cats even scratch when they purr or feel happy. Scratching is not necessarily harmful or aggressive behaviour. People commonly mistake cats for using their claws as a sign of a bad attitude, but that's not the case; they are simply doing what comes naturally to them.
Why do they like to scratch?
There are multiple reasons for cats to scratch, such as:
- Marking their territory
All cats are territorial, and cats love to leave their mark by scratching and scenting. This is especially the case in cat shelters or multi-cat houses where cats mark their territory to show dominance behaviour.
Fact: Cats have olfactory glands in their paws. It allows them to mark their scent when scratching to help deter competition from other felines.
- Scratching removes dead outer layers of claws
When cats feel that their claws are getting too long or maybe a little dirty, they will start scraping rougher surfaces like concrete, brick, or wood to trim their claws a bit. Like dogs, cats scratch their claws to trim their nails. They can sense when their nails get too long, and then they look for a rough surface like concrete or stone to scratch. Repetitive scratching will gradually trim your cat's nails down to the desired length, so in most cases, you do not have to trim the nails because she takes care of the nails herself. After all, felines are famous for being on top of their hygiene, at least compared to dogs!
Scratching can provide stress-relieving effects for cats when they get too nervous. Scratching is therapeutic for cats. Scratching helps cats eliminate any tension in their body and provides mental satisfaction.
You may find your cat scratching herself when she is frustrated; perhaps she has had an encounter with another neighborhood cat. Scratching helps them relax a bit, so it is essential for cats to scratch to stay calm and healthy in any abnormal activity.
Having a cat scratching post helps cats exercise by assisting them to release accumulated aggression and anxiety. It would be the equivalent of spending 20 minutes with a punching bag in the gym for humans. They can stretch their bodies while using the muscles to scratch each time they play with the cat tower/scratching post.
- Being pleasant
This goes hand in hand with exercise! All cats see scratching as a fun and pleasing activity, especially when their scratching post has interactive elements like hiding places to make playtime a little more fun.
If your cat is primarily indoors, there are a limited number of options for her to display her natural scratching behaviour. Cats generally tend to look for objects/materials to poke their claws into, allowing them to stretch, such as textured surfaces, string and rugs. Unfortunately, this also includes your sofa.
However, as most pet parents know, cats have their own preferences, so not all cats will respond to the scratching solution you present. We'd like to provide some suggestions for you to improve your cats’ welfare.
How to prevent cats from scratching furniture?
Like most unwanted behaviours, preventing your cat from scratching your furniture may require a combination of training and usage of different products.
When you need persuasive help or ways to distract your cat from your couch, there are products designed to aid the process or offer a solution.
If your cat is bored or more energetic and needs to scratch for territorial reasons, there are many products to get your cat's brain working, such as:
- Scratching Cat Towers / Cat Trees
There are plenty of these available; the tall ones, the basic ones at ground level, the multi-level skyscrapers, the ones with various textures, and built-in toys. It sure is the life of a cat. Be sure to purchase with the proper preparation, including thinking about the textures and surfaces that already appeal to your cat. Some cats like to scratch a horizontal surface rather than a vertical surface; remember these little details.
- Scratching posts for cats
If you're wondering why your cat uses your furniture or carpets as a scratching post, it's most likely because you don't have a scratching post. Your cat didn't want to scratch your new sofa either, but since you left her no choice, she has to scratch your couch. You must provide your cat with cat scratching posts.
If you already have a cat scratching post and your feline friend still decides to use your furniture, consider the area in which the cat scratching post is located. Is your cat scratching post too difficult for your cat to reach? If you're sitting in the garage next to dusty boxes or unused gym equipment, your cat won't want to go near your scratching post at all. Is it in a quiet room in your house that they usually don't go into? Generally, your cat will not make a special effort to visit your scratcher if she is in an isolated room or area of your home.
The best place to put your cat scratcher is right next to the furniture she likes to scratch the most. By doing this, you give them an alternative that is accessible and directly available to them. Better yet, if you have two scratchers, it will be even easier to tackle your cat scratching in the wrong places.
- Interactive toys for cats