Scratching Behavior in Cats

Scratching is a natural, instinctive behavior in cats. They scratch to mark territory and to maintain their nails and muscle health. Unfortunately, this normal cat behavior often causes serious damage to our relationship with our cats. They don't understand that it's not good to scratch the new leather couch and we can't understand why they suddenly started tearing up the furniture.

Prevention is Key!

The first thing to do is trim your cat's nails regularly. It's best to start when they are kittens, but adult cats can be taught to allow this vital grooming as well.

Next, make sure you give your cat acceptable alternatives to scratching the furniture. Have several different options of scratching posts in different locations throughout the home. Some cats prefer scratching upright posts, others prefer horizontal. Cardboard scratchers are popular with most cats, sisal rope-wrapped posts are also a favorite.

Whatever scratching alternatives you provide, you can entice your cat to them by placing a few treats on or near the scratching center. You can also try rubbing a little catnip on it to encourage your cat.

Use Comfort Zone spray by Feliway on areas that you do not want your cat to scratch. DO NOT apply it to the scratching posts as this will discourage your cat from using it.

Teach your cat to 'come' when called so that you can call him away from scratching inappropriately and redirect him to his scratching posts.

Teaching your cat the correct places to scratch and keeping his nails trimmed will help keep your furniture safe and keep your cat happy and healthy.

The links below are excellent videos to explain scratching behavior and how to deal with your cat's instinct to scratch.

(1) Managing Destructive Scratching Behavior in Cats Part 1 - Welcome - YouTube

(2) Managing Destructive Scratching Behavior in Cats Part 2 - Why Do Cats Scratch - YouTube

(3) Managing Destructive Scratching Behavior in Cats Part 3 - Selecting a Scratching Post - YouTube

(4) Managing Destructive Scratching Behavior in Cats Part 4 - Placing the Scratching Post - YouTube

(5) Managing Destructive Scratching Behavior in Cats Part 5 - Positive Reinforcement and Discouragement - YouTube

This article also has some great tips

Feline Behavior Problems: Destructive Behavior | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

If you are still having difficulty, please contact us for a consult.

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Thank you,

Judy Seils and Ruby

Judy Seils

Judy Seils has over 20 years of experience working with dogs and cats in the most stressful of environments, the veterinary clinic. During that time, she taught dog training classes and helped clients with behavior issues. She trained and competed with two of her dogs, Dreamer and Shiloh, in flyball, and coached other teammates in training their dogs. Judy also had fun working with Dreamer and Shiloh in freestyle.

Though currently dogless, Judy is clicker training her calico cat, Ruby who is keeping her humble as they work on such behaviors as sit, beg, give me five, wearing a harness and others. Cats are definitely harder to train than dogs, but also fun to work with.

Judy loves using her knowledge to help other people train their dogs and cats.

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Last updated 22.7.2022