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Destructive Scratching: Why Cats Do It and How to Address It

For cats, scratching is as natural as purring. While purring is more enjoyable and less destructive for humans (and furniture), scratching nonetheless serves an innate and primal need within cats. It could be said that they cannot help themselves; on occasion, cats much scratch.

cat running

There are a number of reasons why cats scratch which includes:

Grooming - Cats eventually develop a dead layer of nail around their claws. Scratching helps them to remove and release it so that new, healthy claw material can grow in.

Marking Territory - Scratching also allows cats to fulfill their instinctual need to claim their territory and leave their scent in a defined area. (In addition to near their mouth, cats also have scent glands on the front paws.)

To Stretch and Stay Limber - Cats often extend their bodies and limbs fully outward while scratching. This allows them to get a full stretch; they even extend their paws and toes. This in turn keeps their muscles supple and limber so that they are better able to jump and navigate their environment.  

Expel Energy - Scratching and stretching also allows cats to burn off excess energy after a nap or sedentary period.  

Training Cats to Scratch Designated Items

Providing cats with scratching posts, mats, corrugated cardboard scratchers, logs and other acceptable objects for venting this behavior is the first step to ensuring they will leave your furniture alone. Be sure to situate these items where they tend to travel the most, such as near the entrance to their favorite room or near their sleeping area.

You can also place them near or in front of unacceptable items/areas that they had been scratching. Designated scratching items should be coarse, appealing and placed at the right height or location to ensure your cat will be interested in it and understand that this is the right place to scratch.

Be sure to praise your cat when he or she scratches in the correct place as opposed to furniture and other off-limit items. Meanwhile, cover their previous targets with double-backed tape or foil to discourage scratching there.

Trimming Your Cat's Claws

Cats’ claws should also be trimmed regularly to help ensure they do not grow too long. If possible, give the tips a trim every week or two. This may be a two-person job, with one person holding the cat while the other trims their claws. Getting pets used to having their paws handled generally can help them to be more amenable to this.

Visit Our Veterinarian to Get Your Cats’ Claws Trimmed Today

Las Vegas veterinarian A Cat Hospital has a special place in our hearts for cats. If you require assistance with cat behavioral issues or trimming their claws, don’t hesitate to contact us.