Scratching! A Natural Behavior

It'is simple. You pick the objects that you want your cat to scratch. Here's how.


Does your furniture have little shreds of fabric hanging from the corners? Does your relatively new area rug look more than a little disheveled? Do your cupboards suffer from telltale claw marks? If so, you need to understand that your cat isn't out to destroy your property - she is merely satisfying her natural urges in the best way she knows how.

Cats scratch objects to remove the sheaths of their nails and to mark their territories. And the stretching or climbing involved in the process is a way to exercise and flex their muscles."lt's important to recognize that scratching is normal behavior," says llona Rodan, DVM, of the Cat Care Clinic in Madison, WI.

The gradual destruction of your belongings may make you want to tear your hair out, but providing your cat with appropriate and desirable scratching areas is a less stressful approach for both of you. "lt's always easiest to prevent the problem rather than try to fix it," says Dr. Rodan. "You accomplish this by training the cat to use proper materials from the start."

First, you need to isolate the type of surface your cat enjoys most. If you find bits of your wall-to-wall pulled from the nap, your cat enjoys scratching carpet. If she's attracted to your dining table legs, she may prefer wood. Other cats may enjoy exercising their options with sisal or cardboard. "Different cats have different preferences," says Dr. Rodan.

Don't expect your cat to automatically appreciate (and use) the first scratching post you provide for her, either. You may need to provide a few different surfaces before finding the best one to guide your cat's behavior.

The unbridled glee with which a cat scratches an object is something you can redirect to a human-friendly location and texture. Be prepared to experiment, though.

To redirect your cat's natural scratching behavior, provide her with a scratching post. The best scratching post for your cat combines different scratching media and has multilevels on which your cat can claw, climb, and exercise.