Why does my cat scratch? (And what you can do about it)

Why does my cat scratch? (And what you can do about it)

05/11/2015

Every cat owner has been there: ruined furniture, scratch marks on the wallpaper, carpets that have been shredded ... Scratching - it’s just what cats do. But why? And what can you do about it?

Scratching is a natural behaviour for cats. They do it as an instinctive method of caring for their claws, to mark their territory or to relieve stress. They certainly don’t do it to challenge you or because they’re trying to be naughty. That’s why you should never punish your cat for scratching - they simply wouldn’t understand and the behaviour would continue. So what can you do? Here are some tips:

1)  Make your furniture unattractive to a cat

Discourage your cat from scratching your favourite furniture by thoroughly cleaning any scratchmarks that are already present, as cats like to return to their “marked” spots. As they also return to areas they have marked with their scent glands, you can also spray with an anti-odour detergent to get the spot entirely cat smell-free. You can also make rough surfaces that are irresistable for cats (temporarily) unattractive by applying double-sided tape and aluminium foil, or by spraying Feliway on them.

2) Offer tempting alternatives

Offer your cat plenty of places to scratch away to their heart’s content. It’s best to put up at least one scratching post per cat in your household. You can also mount permanent or replacable cardboard scratch boards on your walls - just make sure to mount them at the right height for your cat as they will be a lot longer when they stretch all the way :-) The scratching post or board can be made especially attractive by applying catnip or valerian.

3) DIY: Make your own scratching board or post

Scratching posts can be quite pricey, but you can simply make one yourself after a quick visit to the hardware store using a solid board, a cedar post and some sisal rope. Attach the post to the plank and wind the rope very tightly around the post. Secure the post well using small nails or tacks. You can also make a carpeted scratching board. Cover a board with a piece of carpet (preferably carpet with loops so that your cat's claws can catch the fabric - if their claws just slip through, your cat won’t like it) and mount the board on a wall using wall plugs and screws. Always be sure to attach your scratching support item very securely, so there will be enough resistance when your cat gets stuck into their scratching. Also, check for any nails or tacks that may be protruding. Safety first! ;-)

4) Relaxation and fun

Always take into account that your cat’s scratching may be a sign of stress or boredom. Are they perhaps nervous? Are there too many cats, new housemates or other stressful aspects in their life? Provide a safe and quiet place where your cat can hide out when they want to, and offer plenty of distraction and play.

You don’t have enough time to entertain your cat? Or are you looking for a playmate for your cat? You can always book a loving cat sitter on Pawshake!