Why does my cat scratch?

By: Michelle

In my last blog I introduced you all to my cat, Erroll. We looked at stress factors, including unwanted visits from other cats, and how this can cause spraying behaviour and inappropriate urination. In this blog we look at why cats scratch and not always in the place we would like them to! I talked about how Erroll is now an elderly gentleman and mainly stays close to home. He prefers a comfy spot on the sofa to the sights and sounds of the busy outdoors but he does still like to venture out every now and again. Erroll made the most of one of his recent forays into the garden by having a good clawing session at the trunk of one of the fruit trees.

Do all cats scratch?

Yes and it is a totally normal behaviour for cats and has two main functions. Firstly it is a marking behaviour and secondly part of a claw care regime. Similar to spraying behaviour, cats scratch and rub their cheeks in selected areas in order to leave information about themselves for other cats in the form of pheromones from the scent glands on their feet and faces.

Scratching is also essential for claw maintenance. Unlike dogs or people where scratching or filing would wear down and blunt nails, cats regularly scratch with their claws to remove the dead outer layer exposing the newly grown, sharp inner part of the claw. Scratching on rough objects allows this to happen. Outdoor cats can use many rough surfaces to scratch – trees, fence posts and even car tyres, but indoor cats will use furniture, carpet or door frames if not provided with a suitable alternative i.e. a scratch posts.

What to look for in a scratch post.

Scratching posts should be stable, have a suitably covered surface such as carpet or sisal and be placed somewhere the cat is happy to use them. Vertical scratch posts should be tall enough for your cat to scratch at full stretch. Some cats prefer to scratch horizontally so you could provide a scratch mat or a slope, or your doormat may get more than just human feet using it! Offer your cat a variety of options and for multi-cat households, the rule of thumb is one scratch post per cat plus one for choice.

If you cats’ scratching has become a problem then Bright Side can help – contact us and we can advise you on persuading your moggie to scratch in all the right places!