Why Does My Cat Scratch My Furniture? | Ultimate Behavior Guide
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Out of all of the pet owners in the world, the biggest complaint they may have pertains to their cats. Cats scratch, and it leads many cat owners to declaw their cats. However, for cats that go outdoors at all, declawing is not an option.Nevertheless, scratching cats can do a great deal of damage to your furniture. Here are some of the motivations behind your cat’s scratching habits along with how to stop them. Remember, they are not trying to misbehave; the scratching is simply an innate behavior left over from the feline’s wild ancestors.
Why Does a Cat Scratch?
Sometimes your cat scratches to keep his claws in shape. It is an instinctual way to maintain the condition of the claws, an act of grooming in a way. Cats really feel the need to scratch because their claws are an essential part of their survival. Keeping their claws in top condition is important in the wild, so in your cat’s mind, the claws are still an essential element of themselves even in the domestic setting.
Other times cats scratch when they stretch their bodies and legs. This scratching is not at all malicious, but instead, an automatic maneuver. Your cat simply wants to feel good, and so flexes his paws, legs, back, and may end up scratching a surface in the process.
Cats tend to scratch out in anger and frustration as well. It is a way for them to mark their place in the world, thus signaling their territory. Cats under a great deal of stress will usually scratch more than calm and content cats.
The most interesting reason for a cat scratching is territorial and instinctual. This is similar to their unwanted behavior of bringing dead animals home. Cats actually have scent glands on the pads of their paws. When they scratch things, they release that scent onto the item, thus marking their territory. Additionally, the scratches also leave visible signs of the cat’s presence, and further marks their territory. The territorial urges are a very natural part of your cat’s being, and cannot really be suppressed. But remember that your cat is not trying to misbehave, rather he is doing what he thinks is right for his survival.
How To Prevent Cat Scratching
- Set up Scratch Posts In Areas They Like to Claw- If your cat has a specific place in your home they like to scratch then place a scratching post or cat tree in that area. Providing a scratching post as an alternative may get rid of this bad habit all together. This is due a scratching posts satisfying feeling when compared to furniture. Also, pay attention to whether your cat scratches vertical or horizontal surfaces; Then buy a post or scratch surface to match their preference.
- Make Furniture Less Attractive- Another thing you can do is make your furniture less attractive, especially when you aren't home. Tin foil can be used on horizontal surfaces to rid the pleasure of scratching the surface. You can also use double sided sticky tape for the sides of couches and chairs. Its hard to scratch a surface when your paws are getting stuck. If you don't want to use either of these items you can also place an item of fear on their desired surface. For example, putting your vacuum on your couch when you leave will surely deter your cat from going near it.
- Trim Your Cats Nails- Although it is still in a cats genes to scratch, you can reduce the urge by keeping your cats nails trimmed. Here is a really good article by ASPCA explaining how to safely clip your cats nails.
- Use Negative Reinforcement- Another method that usually works better in younger cats is training them to not scratch furniture. When ever they scratch furniture, make sure you use a strong voice to let them know this behavior is not okay. Another effective method is to use a squirt bottle to spray them whenever they begin to scratch. They will eventually associate scratching furniture with the negative spray bottle and will keep their scratching to their posts.
More on Cat Aggression
The first time that you see your cat become aggressive, you might become fearful of your cat. Many cat owners have questions when they witness their cats attack. Many owners want to know if something is wrong with their cat or if it is a danger to those around him or her. Before deciding if you should contact your veterinarian, there are a number of important points you will first want to take into consideration.
Firstly, you should realize that all cats are considered predators and this is neither a trait nor a characteristic that disappears. Your cat will also have hunting instincts as well. This is one of the many reasons why cats occasionally display aggressive behavior.
When it comes to aggressive hunting behavior, many cat owners become concerned, as they feel that they provide their cat with plenty of food and do not understand why their cat feels the need to hunt prey. However, your cat hunting prey has nothing to do with how much food he is given. Rather, your cat will sometimes feel the need to hunt. Oftentimes, a cat will not eat what it has killed. A cat only lives for the hunt.
As for how you can determine whether your pet cat is just exercising his need to hunt, look at the attack in question. Did your cat try to attack your foot as you walked by? If so, this is a normal occurrence and not a sign of something serious.
Jumping at your feet as you walk by was cited as an example above. This can lead to another cause of aggression in cats; over excitement. Some popular cat toys on the market are those where balls are attached to a string and your catch chases it. These toys are nice, but they can also lead to some confusion, as your foot may appear similar in nature to your cat’s favorite toy. It is also important to know that cats are sensitive and their mood easily changes. Is this why playtime with your cat can end with you having a scratch or a bite mark.
Cats, as with many other pets, are territorial. This is another leading cause of aggression in cats. Is your cat the only pet in your home? If so, they may react with aggression when another pet enters into their territory. The same can be said for children. Do you have children? If not, when a child visits your home, your cat may be frustrated, fearful, or angry with the change, especially inside their territory. The quick movements of small children can also cause a cat to act out. As an important note, cats are typically safe around children. With that in mind, all small children should be watched carefully when around any kind of pet.
Remember Not to Declaw Your Cat!
Though a relatively common practice in America, the act of declawing cats is actually against the law in many regions of the world. Most people around the world find it to be a very inhumane procedure. There is much evidence to support the theory that it is very unkind and even harmful to the cats. Over time and with increased education, American needs to follow the lead of others and ban the declawing of cats.
Many people declaw their cats for their own personal comfort. But they do not take their cat’s comfort into consideration. Instead they are simply worried about getting scratched, or having their cat hurt their home by scratching surfaces within their house.
The act of declawing cats is a surgical procedure. It is not as simple as trimming the nails down, it requires actually removing an essential part of a cat’s physical form. The process itself can be very stressful and painful to the cat. And the recovery time can be even more painful. Additionally, the claws serve a purpose to the cat’s survival. Removing them puts your cat in grave danger whenever he gets outdoors, and also leaves your cat with a lack of security which leads to emotional issues.
Any way you look at it, declawing a cat is an unnecessary and cruel procedure. If you are afraid of scratches on yourself, your family, or your furniture, then obviously a cat is not the right pet for you. It is really important to maintain the integrity of an animal like a cat by leaving its essential parts in tact. Even considering removing a cat’s claws displays a laziness and lack of humanity on the part of the owner. Hopefully in the not so distant future, America and all other countries currently promoting the act of declawing will see the error of their ways and ban the inhumane procedure.