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The Importance of Scratching

Posted on March 23, 2015

It is common to think that a cat scratches simply to sharpen its claws, but there is actually mental and physical health benefits to the innocent cat scratch.

The Benefits of Cat Scratching

  • Scratching helps a cat maintain claw health by scratching away the outer sheath and allowing the new claw to grow through.
  • It’s a communication method between cats:
    • Scratching leaves a mark on the post/tree or whatever the cat is scratching to show other cats when they are entering another cat’s area.
    • It also leaves an olfactory mark via scent glands in the paw pads.
  • Scratching is also an emotional release:
    • When your cat is frustrated or angry he can often seek out a place to scratch.
    • But he may also scratch when he is happy, have you ever come home and your cat runs straight to his scratch post? He may well be excited and needs to exert that energy.
  • Scratching also helps a cat to unkink and stretch all of the muscles in his body when reaching up high for a full stretch.
     

Establishing Good Scratching Habits
It is simple cat nature to scratch, they need to for their own wellbeing and it comes naturally to them. But often we can find that they are scratching and damaging things that are expensive or irreplaceable so it is important to establish acceptable scratching habits for your cat.
 

Establishing Good Scratching Habits:

  • Put out several scratching posts in 2 or 3 areas used most by your cat. An example could be the room or area where they sleep , or places where the cat tends to rest and play;
  • Don’t put the cat’s paw on the post and force it to scratch, this will only cause grief for the cat and quite possibly pain for you;
  • Encourage scratching on the post by:
    • Dangling its toys on or near the post;
    • Scenting the post with catnip;
    • Using praise and food rewards when the cat scratches the post or even;
    • Scratching the post yourself to stimulate the cat to scratch.

Changing Bad Scratching Habits

  • Cover or move the damaged scratching area making it unavailable for curious claws;
  • Put the scratching post next to the damaged area so it has an alternate scratching option;
  • Because cats like to scratch in prominent areas of their home, you may need to leave the post in the area where the cat prefers to scratch for example: your cat may not scratch a post located in the back corner of the basement.

Most cats, old or young can be taught some basic good scratching habits that still allow it to enjoy their natural habit. If you are still having problems with bad habits, make sure that you consult your veterinarian for further advice.