Why do cats scratch? I’m going to be straight up with you, your cat’s scratching is an instinctual behavior which means there is little to no hope of getting your cat to completely stop scratching. However, you can absolutely get your cat to stop scratching less desirable objects such as your couch, curtains, and carpet.
The first thing to understand is that cats scratch to mark their territory. The act of scratching allows the cat to leave both a visible sign and scent on the area through scent glands located on the paws. Scratching is also a simple pleasure that cats enjoy. When we take the time and have the patience to understand this is part of their nature, we can then take a deep breath, forgive them for all those destroyed items, and move forward towards a solution. Cat behaviorist and author, Pam Johnson-Bennett, also has a number of great articles on her website with all sorts of additional information on enabling healthy cat scratching behaviors.
Here at The Happy Beast, some of our favorite solutions include:
- Cat furniture made of carpet and sisal are great options that give your cat a place to scratch and a place to perch. Midwest brand cat trees are a combination of sisal and carpet and are super easy to clean and fashionable. (Stop by the store to check them out!)
- Corrugated cardboard scratchers are inexpensive and have the potential to last up to a year. Kong, Our Pets, and Vanness Scratchers brtands range in price from $11.99- $19.99. Cat’s love them, especially when sprinkled with a bit of catnip! A single Our Pets brand scratcher has lasted over a year at my house, and has withstood the aggressive scratching of four cats.
- In general, simply making sure that your cat gets enough play and mental stimulation can also minimize bad scratching behaviors. Even toys that are not specifically geared toward scratching can help, including chase toys like Play n’ Squeak, Go-Cat feather tails, Peacock feathers, and Go-cat mouse catcher.
- Regardless of what solution works best for you, there will certainly still be some setbacks along the way. 🙂 However, please don’t de-claw your cat under any circumstances! De-clawing your cat can often lead to other unwanted behaviors, such as litter box issues and inappropriate urinating. Please check out PawProject.org for more information on this important issue.