Cat scratching is natural and intuitive. Cats scratch on objects for multiple reasons: a) to remove the dead outer layer of their claws, b) to stretch their body, feet and claws (especially when they wake up), c) to mark their territory through scratching which leaves a visual marking and a scent marking that is located in their paws which sends information to other cats, d) when they need to release forms of emotion such as being upset, anxious, stressed. As a result of these reasons, scratching is ESSENTIAL to your cat’s well-being.
Knowing that scratching is necessary for cats will help you set-up your home to enable them to do what is natural and yet protect your furniture. If your cat is scratching on your carpet, furniture or drapes, simply place a horizontal scratch pad or vertical scratch post in the same location that he/she is scratching. By doing so, you are redirecting your cat to the acceptable objects to scratch. When you see your cat scratch on the unacceptable object, don’t yell or push him/her away, simply redirect him/her to the scratch pad/post and give positive reinforcement training with a treat placed on the scratch pad/post and with a loving tone of voice state that the behavior was good.
Note that some cats prefer a horizontal pad rather than a vertical post. How will you know which one is best?
Observe and learn – watch your cat on a regular basis and see if he/she uses one more than the other.
They like coarse or textured surfaces that enable them to dig in their claws. Having an appealing texture for scratching and having the scratch objects in the appropriate location is important for behavior modification. Refrain from carpet covered posts since they are too soft and their claws tend to get caught in the carpet loops.
If you have more than one cat, you’ll need more than one scratching post. Just watch your cat scratching behavior and where he/she spends most of the time and you will find the best location(s) for the scratch pad or post.
Tip For Cat Boarding: The Hotel For Cats provides cat scratch pads in the play room. In addition, we recommend that you bring your cat’s personalized small scratch pad to the hotel so it can be provided 24 hours a day for your cat in his/her cat-friendly cage.
*Content adapted from Animal Behavior Institute (ABI).