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Why Cats Scratch

By June 6, 2019 Small Animal

It is completely normal for cats to scratch. They aren’t doing it to bug you, or because they always hated that floral couch; they do it for a multitude of reasons.  Cats scratch to remove the dead outer layer of their claws, to mark their territory (they leave both visible evidence and a scent – they have scent glands in their paws), and also to stretch their body and toes.  Yes it can be frustrating, but since it is a normal behaviour you don’t want to discourage it completely.

Watch Them – Watch where they like to scratch. Note the type of material, when they scratch (after a nap, or when they see you?), how do they scratch (vertically, do they scratch the carpet, etc.?) Once you know all of that information, you can present them with alternatives.

Alternatives – Start by covering the off-limit spot with things that your cat’s paws will avoid (like aluminum foil or double sided sticky tape).  You can even change the odour; cats don’t like citrus or menthol smells.

  • Provide Scratch Zones:
    • Rope trees, cardboard pads – whatever textures your cat enjoys to scratch
    • Experiment with placement (near bed, near couch, by door etc.)
    • Rub catnip on the designated scratching zone or try to use specific cat pheromone spray ( which attracts cats to scratch in that one place)

Location – Place the scratch post where the cat will use it. Then eventually, little by little you can move it to where you want it to be.  

Clipping Claws – cats don’t wear down their claws like dogs can, which means they can become overgrown. It is beneficial to clip their nails and check every couple of weeks to see if they need clipped again.

If you have any questions, talk to one of our team members at Coventry Animal Hospital.

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