Raising Your Paws - Your Pet Parent Resource

Why Exactly Does My Cat Have To Scratch on Things? (Blog #78)

Published: 10/20/2020
cat scratching a scratching post

It’s always good to visit the issue of a cats need to scratch. Since they will always do this and much conflict occurs when your feline chooses your favorite chair,  it’s best to fully understand this behavior. It is a common belief that when your cat scratches the trees outside, the posts you provide indoors or on your furniture, they do this to sharpen their claws. There are many more important reasons they do this. In my interview with Pam Johnson-Bennett,  one of our countries leading certified cat behavior consultants, we spoke about how living with felines is much easier if we make sure we meet their primary needs. Scratching is one of them, but of course you want them to do it appropriately. Here is your need-to-know information about the subject.  (Source material from Pam’s book, “Cat Wise”)

Actually, scratching serves many purposes.

It’s a territorial marking behavior.  The vertical marks left, are a visual sign for other animals passing by. Doesn’t matter if your cat lives indoors. This is hardwired behavior. An odor is also left on the object scratched from scent glands in the cat’s paw pads.

It relieves tension. Scratching is an emotional release or displacement behavior so when your cat is happy, excited, stressed or frustrated, she can release some of the built-up emotion by doing this.

The kind of scratching posts that best meet your cat’s needs will be:

The right texture. A rough texture is most effective. The material, sisal is the preferred one. Wood or corrugated cardboard can work as well if your cat likes it.

Sturdy and the right height.  If the post is wobbly or feels unstable, your cat will not use it. The post must also be tall enough so that the cat can fully stretch up when scratching. Make sure the base is a good wide one, so the post is stable.

Placed In the correct spot. Please don’t hide the post in a corner of a room you and your cat do not use. Pick a spot where your cat normally tends to want to scratch. If trying to change your cat’s habit of using the couch, place the post by the furniture.

During our conversation in the episode below, (number 78 which is a replay of pillar episode 3), Pam Johnson-Bennett, names three top truths about cats and what this means to you if you have them. Then we go into detail about the first truth about a domestic cat’s nature – that they can be trained and you and your cat will benefit greatly from taking the time to do so.

Pam talks about the second and third truths in episodes 4 and 5, so please subscribe to the podcast so you get all the goodies.