Why Does My Cat Scratch?

It is normal and healthy for cats to scratch. Find out how you can encourage healthy cat scratching behavior, and still protect your furniture!

Why Does My Cat Scratch? from Princeton Veterinary Hospital. It is normal and healthy for cats to scratch. Find out how you can encourage healthy cat scratching behavior, and still protect your furniture!

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Why Does My Cat Scratch?

One of the most frustrating cat behaviors can be scratching. While it can drive us crazy, and can cause damage to our houses and furniture, cats scratch as part of their normal behavior.

Scratching does a few different things for cats. It helps them stretch their muscles, it helps them shed the outer parts of their claws as it gets ready to fall off, and it lets them mark their territory. While it is tempting to discourage your cat from scratching completely, it is important to let him express these normal behaviors.

Scratching Post Tips

How can you encourage healthy scratching behavior, and still protect your furniture? Invest in a good scratching post for your cat. Follow these tips to help choose the best scratching post for your cat.

  • Consider what your cat likes to scratch. If your cat likes to scratch up the legs of the furniture, he may prefer a vertical scratching post. If your cat likes to scratch on carpet or other flooring, he may prefer a horizontal scratching post. Look for a scratching post that has material similar to what he is already scratching. Sisal is a good material – it shreds (which cats love), and it holds up for a long time.
  • Consider where your cat likes to scratch. Because scratching is one way that cats mark their territory, keeping a scratching post near your cat’s favorite sleeping spot can be a good way for him to “stake his claim” to that comfy bed. Purchase a scratching post that will fit in the area where your cat is already showing some scratching behavior.
  • Discourage your cat from using the furniture. Place the scratching post next to the spot where your cat is already scratching. If she is scratching on the side of the couch, put the scratching post right next to the couch. Then cover the side of the couch with something she doesn’t like – aluminum foil or double-sided sticky tape are good options.
  • Encourage your cat to use the scratching post. Put a favorite toy on the scratching post, or sprinkle a little loose catnip on the scratching post to get your cat interested in it.

Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed will help to minimize damage to your furniture, and may discourage her from scratching too much. You can trim your cat’s nails at home (if you cut them too short, these tips will help you stop the bleeding), or you can bring her in to use for a nail trim, no appointment needed!

Scratching people in defense or aggression is a different issue than normal scratching on objects. Your cat may be anxious or feel threatened. If your cat is scratching people, please call us or come in to talk to our veterinarians about this behavior issue.

Does your cat need a nail trim? Do you need more help to get your cat to stop scratching your furniture? We can help! Call us or come in to talk to our veterinary technicians or veterinarians. We can go over some behavior and training tips, or discuss other options to help your cat express her natural behaviors while keeping your house safe.

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