Why is your cat scratching
Cats scratch walls, doors and furniture: this is a good way to stop them scratching
Scratching and sharpening your claws are natural instincts
We love the many positive qualities our cats have and everything would be perfect if it weren't for one thing, namely scratching wallpaper, doors and furniture. To get straight to the point: it is not possible to train cats from scratching. Cats are predators and sharpening their claws is part of their natural instincts. But: Cats can also learn rules and we can train our cats. We can get our cat to sharpen its claws where it doesn't bother us, for example on the scratching post, on a scratching wall or board or on a scratching barrel.
But why do cats scratch anyway?
There can be many reasons for scratching:
- The scratching serves as a defense: In nature the cat has to defend itself from enemies. She can defend herself by scratching with her sharp claws. She also needs the claws when jumping, climbing and catching prey.
- Scratching as an instinct to play: When cats play with each other, scratching and biting are always part of the playful brawl. Movement sequences and hunting are trained and social behavior is learned. Since cats have fur, the scratching between them is not as dramatic as it is on our bare skin. Make sure that the cat does not offer its own hands and feet to play with, as this will prevent it from getting used to attacking these body parts! Young cats in particular sometimes get into a kind of intoxicated state while playing and can be quite wild and over the target.
- Fun in exercise: It is in the nature of cats to move around a lot: hunting, territorial fights, climbing, fleeing: all of these are normally part of a cat's life. Cats love to exercise their bodies and keep fit and are mostly electrified. If you can't live out all this enough in your apartment, then you can find a valve to relieve the tension and let off steam on the sofa, doors and wallpaper.
- Scratch marks the area: In the wild, cats mark their territory on trees. They do this by scratching the bark and setting their scent mark. There are glands in the cat's paws that release pheromones when it is scratched. This sets a scent mark that is supposed to keep rivals at a distance.
- Scratching as claw care: Since cats cannot cut their own claws, but they grow back continuously, they are kept at the correct length by sharpening and scratching on rough surfaces and the dead claw shells are stripped off in the process. Outside, the cats use the tree bark as an oversized nail file, so to speak. If your cat does not have enough opportunities to sharpen its nails by itself, then you should cut them yourself with a special nail cutter. It is best to have your vet show you the correct procedure. You can also protect your couch and furniture by choosing smooth surfaces rather than rough surfaces. These are less interesting for your cat and so you can stop it from scratching.
How to stop your cat from scratching
Weaning cats off from scratching doors, wallpaper, and furniture takes a lot of patience and perseverance. In contrast to many dog breeds, cats are naturally more independent and do not have the unconditional will to unconditionally follow their humans. By training cats, however, you can adapt or wean them into a certain behavior by using their natural curiosity and willingness to learn. It is ideal to start with the kitten at 10 to 12 weeks of age. You should only ever concentrate on practicing a certain behavior pattern. Cats react to the soft sounds. Speak to your roommate in a warm, calm voice, but always use the same, short announcements so that you are understood. If she scratches your hands and feet, use a sibilant to stop her from doing so.
If the cat is alone at home, they can, for example, place objects on unauthorized furniture that will make a noise if the cat jumps on them or scratches at them. Empty cans or other metallic objects are very suitable for this. Placing a plastic sheet over unwanted scratches and furniture can also be effective. In general, it is advisable to choose smooth instead of rough surfaces for interior design. These are much less interesting for the cats.
How to get your cat used to the scratching post
In order to get your cat used to permitted scratching alternatives as part of your cat education, you should praise them as often as they make use of the permitted scratching areas. Confirm the praise with pats or treats and draw the cat's attention to these places in a playful way, e.g. by placing cat toys there. If, on the other hand, you catch your cat scratching the wallpaper or a piece of furniture, respond with a clear “No” and immediately put the animal in the permitted scratching area. Quick and consistent reaction is important here. Cats can learn the desired behavior and will then prefer the scratch area with the treats. It is often recommended to spread sour smells (vinegar, lemon oil) to keep the cat away. However, this can also lead to protest behavior, which one would like to avoid.
Scratching posts or scratching walls offer alternatives
If you want to dissuade your cat from unwanted sharpening of its claws on the interior, there should be at least one permitted scratch area in every room in an apartment. Place a scratching post, sisal post or a simple scratching board in your cat's favorite places. Scratching bins with entrances and sleeping places inside are also very popular: this gives your cat a cozy retreat. Floor-to-ceiling scratching posts with resting platforms at different heights have also proven successful. In this way, you also meet your cat's natural need for a viewing point. Big cats are also very fond of scratching boards, here they can stretch particularly well while scratching. If your cat is constantly scratching the carpet, you should buy a lying scratching mat as an alternative to the scratching post. To make a newly acquired scratching post more attractive, you could scent it with valerian or catnip. Scratching posts from pet stores are usually already treated with special substances that cats like to like. Or you rub a cloth several times over your cat and then over the new scratching area, then the new scratching post smells much more familiar!
Noticeable scratching: what else could be behind it?
Perhaps the unwanted behavior is also a signal that your cat is simply bored and has no playmate. Indoor cats, especially if they are kept alone, often react to insufficient stimulation by scratching furniture and walls more intensely. In this case, regular playing times help, when she can really let off steam. A loving cat massage can also sometimes work wonderfully and help to relieve excess tension. Interesting cat toys can serve as an additional element of activity, especially if the cat is alone in the apartment. An empty box - possibly with different entrances - can stimulate the urge to explore easily and cheaply.
Even stressed cats often try to reduce their aggression by scratching. Take these signs as an opportunity to spend more time with your pet. If the tomcat scratches a lot, this can also indicate an above-average territorial behavior. This can especially be the case with non-neutered male cats.
Conclusion: Patience, patience and patience again ...
With cats, the only thing that really helps is to be patient, persistent and not give up! Employment and affection work much better than punishment, since in most cases the cat does not act in such a way to annoy you!
If your cat scratches wallpaper and furniture on a regular basis, find a good range of suitable scratching opportunities and try to get your velvet paw used to it with patience.
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