Why do cats scratch and what can you do to protect your home and furniture from getting mauled by our little furry friends? The following provides a detailed overview of why exactly cats have an innate need to scratch, tips to help train or focus this behavior away from your belongings and four scratch protection products to help minimize damage to your home.
Anyone who has ever been owned by a cat knows full well that while they are inscrutable, adorable creatures, they, like all of us, have their issues.
Some may concern how well they do or do not integrate with their human family or their dietary regimens, and others may focus on what happens to once beautiful sofas, armchairs and carpets that dare to cross feline paths to nowhere in particular.
While many cat lovers may believe that preventing a cat from scratching is the same as making a hole in water, the truth is that an understanding about “the call to scratch” and using our scratch protection products can greatly alleviate this problem.
A Few Relevant Studies And Statistics
A 2017 pilot study conducted by Alexandra Moesta, Deborah Keys and Sharon Crowell-Davis involved a paper questionnaire, which was distributed to 140 cat-owning clients of a small animal practice and published in J Feline Med Surg in October of 2018.
Some 82% responded to the questions, and results indicated that 83.9% of their cats scratched inappropriate items. More than 81% scratched chairs and other furniture, and 64% scratched carpet.
The study also noted that the frequency of the behavior was influenced by the type and material of preferred items, and that carpet, furniture and fabric were the most often selected by their loving but unintentionally destructive furry companions.
4 Key Reasons Cats Have A Need To Scratch
Scratching is a primeval, natural compulsion for cats that follows them their entire lives (whether they have one or nine). In the wild, there are a million logs and other things to choose from, but indoors choices are more limited.
Sofa frames, cushions, tufted chairs and carpets become collateral damage when scratching posts are not provided.
Sometimes even with the posts, there are problems, and that’s why cat guardians need an arsenal of tools
and a keen understanding of why their favorite felines engage in this behavior.
The Need For Cats To Mark Their Territory
According to Jennifer Conrad, DVM and founder and director of the Paw Project
, the world’s largest nonprofit dedicated solely to ending the practice of declawing: “… In terms of cat psychology, scratching is a vital part of a feline’s everyday life, and one important function is to send signals to other animals. In your home, cats scratch furniture because they are marking territory in places where you sit.”
They also mark their territory via the pads in their paws that release a cat’ scent. Although not a tool for survival unless in the wild where marking becomes both visual and olfactory, it is a throwback arising from the feral side of a cat’s essence.
Scratching Maintains Healthy Muscles, Joints And Tendons
Scratching is a natural means of stretching for cats, similar to the needs of an athlete to stretch both before and after a particular exercise. It is also is a “feel good” outlet for your favorite kitty.
Although cats scratch many times during the course of a day, it is almost always the very first thing they do upon awakening.
Scratching Aids In Combatting Stress
Stress in cats can be caused by a number of factors which include: alterations in the schedules of humans in the home; a new pet or human added to the household; the loss of a pet or human in the home; the proximity of outdoor animals, especially other felines, and home renovations.
The scratching helps the cat reduce feelings of insecurity and balances the innate need to mark territory.
Scratching Combats A Cat's Frustration
Scratching relieves tension if a cat has energy to burn, and it makes the animal feel better about the world.
Cats experience frustration when they don't feel in control of their surroundings and when they can’t get the things they crave in the moment such as: food, play time or attention from the humans
in the house.
But Why Do Cats Scratch Furniture?
While Mother Nature offers the perfect solutions for cats living in the wild, there usually aren't too many fallen trees and logs hanging around the average home.
Furniture, like couches, however, provide the perfect scratching post if no others are available in the home. Sofas are sturdy and can withstand the pressure of a cat’s body movements and claws much as logs do in the great outdoors.
This makes them perfect venues for this ingrained behavior, which they cannot control and they use as a tool to naturally trim their claws and exercise.
A Few Tips To Help Deter Cats From Scratching Furniture
As most cat lovers know, felines live by the beat of their own drum, but there are some things you can do to curb their innate need to guiltlessly rip your favorite piece of furniture to shreds.
Show Your Cat Where To Scratch
Like many things in life, this is easier said than done, but all things are possible with a little help from scratching posts, our Cat Training Tape Strips
and an appeal to feline instincts via a sprinkling of cat psychology.
Cats are finicky by nature and best results for scratching posts occur when the cat chooses a favored scratching material. Most cats prefer corrugated cardboard, but others often go for sisal rope, carpeting or wood.
Furniture allows cats to dig their nails into it and get a steady grip, and that's why they love to scratch these areas. Place scratching posts strategically near wherever your cat tends to scratch.
The idea is to redirect the cat’s behavior and not eliminate it, but in order to do so, a cat caretaker must provide alternative acceptable areas, which are usually scratching posts, which should be tall strong and sturdy enough so that they will not tip over with the car’s weight against it.
It is also important to provide both vertical and horizontal posts, as cats like variety and often prefer one or the other or both.
Know When To Trim A Cat’s Nails
It’s usually time to trim nails when the cat’s claws seem to be getting stuck in whatever he or she is choosing to scratch.
Convincing the cat that it is time may not be so easy, but can be accomplished by establishing an association with treats every time the cat allows you touch his our her paws.
The Best Cat Scratch Protection Products For The Home
There are four products specifically designed to redirect destructive scratching into healthy channels. They are as follows:
Cat Scratch Furniture Protectors
Sometimes what can't be seen is the best way to go, which is the case here with these sturdy clear furniture protectors
that are specifically designed to withstand rough contact and at the same time, provide invisible protection from cats scratching, shredding and clawing sofas, armchairs, ottomans, mattresses, curtains, screens, baskets, speakers and other items. They are versatile, and come in four diverse sizes with two sheets in every pack.
Training And Repellant Cat Scratch Tape
This is a best selling solution to deterring scratching and clawing behavior
on furniture and other surfaces. Cats avoid sticky surfaces and this clear, double-sided adhesive is paw-safe and super effective.
Installation is easy; just apply to the selected surface, and it will serve as a tough barrier between claws and sofas and other areas where cats like to scratch. It will reduce scratching without any irritation to paws. This tape is available both as training strips and in sheet form.
Cat Training Tape Strips
These adhesive strips
leave no gluey residue, and can be installed in seconds by simply peeling off the white liner and applying them to trouble spots such as: carpets, sofas; doors; drapes; screen doors and others. Each package contains 20 strips made from non-toxic, quality material. They are fast, safe and highly efficient.
This double-sided tape provides an effective, tested barrier between your beloved cat and expensive furniture. They are also water proof, clear in color to match any decor, sustainable and made in the good old US of A, as All In The Family Archie Bunker used to say.
Cat Training Tape XL Sheets
These extra large cat training sheets
are easily and instantly applied via a built-in dispenser. The 3” X 30 yards of high quality material requires a simple cut to the desired length and an easy peel off when ready to affix to any surface.
These sheets are easy to store and their low tact adhesive will not irritate paws. They are also odor-free, clear and will help keep home interiors looking clean and attractive.
The joys of living with cats are manifold, but they inevitably come with a price, as do all things worthwhile.
Cats give us so much, albeit it may not seem so. Their eyes seek and offer love, acceptance and comfort when gloom pervades, and their playful spirits serve as powerful buffers against loneliness.
Co-existence is possible with innocent bystanders, such as furniture, but only aided by our tried and true Clawguard products.
Give them a try today — You (and your furniture) will thank us tomorrow!
Photo credits: Pixabay, Shutterstock and Clawguard