Most of us assume that when a cat scratches objects using his front paws, he is actually sharpening his claws. What we do not know is that this is just a secondary reason. A study on cat behavior suggests that communication is a major reason why a cat scratches. By roughing up the leg of your expensive chair or a tree bark, the cat is actually informing other cats or other people where he is and what he is up to.
Cats tend to choose to scratch some conspicuous objects around them such as fence post, trees, corner of the couch, leg of the chair, etc. and repeatedly return to them. No wonder the tree next door was so scratched up and your cat was always on the couch alone. They leave a visible mark on the scratch surface so that it can be easily seen by people and other cats. Moreover, cat's paws have scent glands. This means that they leave odor cues on the scratching post so that other cats will know where they are.
We do not have any idea what cats are trying to communicate with their scratching. Both female and male cats do it both inside and outside your home and even when your cat is the only cat in the area. Could it be a territorial warning or is it an announcement that a cat lives here happily? Your cat scratches very often but do not worry, he is not being destructive, he is also not trying to spine you, but he is trying to communicate.
If this is the case, can you do anything about it? Of course you can! You have to establish good scratching habit in your cat so that the next time you see your cat scratches something, it is no longer your favorite chair or couch. Read on and learn some pointers for establishing a good scratching habit in your cat:
1. Try putting several scratching posts in 3 or 4 areas where your cat scratches most often. You can place these scratching posts near his sleeping place or in places where your cat often rests and plays.
2. Instead of purchasing scratching objects, why do not you just make them; however, you have to make sure that the scratching surface is made of fabric so it is easier for your cat to shred.
3. Never force your cat to scratch the scratching object you made by putting his paws on the object.
Wait and be patient until your cat scratches the post by himself.
4. Do encourage your cat to use the scratching post by playing near the post, placing some dangle-toys on it, using catnip to scent the post, carrying and giving rewards whenever the cat scratches the post or even by scratching the post by yourself to encourage and stimulate your cat to scratch it.
For older cats that have already developed scratching problem:
1. Cover the damaged scratching area with thick plastic or cloth so that your cat will feel it's a different object and will not be tempted to scratch it.
2. Place the scratching post near the damaged area and make sure you cover it with something your cat would find appealing like loose-weaved fabric or knubby textures.
3. If you notice that your cat scratches often in prominent areas of your home, you may temporarily place the new scratching post in that area.
Keep this in mind – most cats can be trained, taught, or retrained not to damage things inside or outside the home. If the ideas mentioned above do not resolve your problem, consult your veterinarian and ask information about an animal behaviorist. If everything fails, you may go to last resort which is declawing.