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The Natural and Essential Aspect of Scratching in Cat Behavior

The Natural and Essential Aspect of Scratching in Cat Behavior

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The Art of Redirecting Your Cat’s Scratching Behavior

As any cat owner knows, scratching is a natural behavior for felines. It serves various purposes, such as communication, marking territory, exercise, and maintaining healthy claws. However, it can be frustrating when your indoor cat decides to claw at your furniture instead of appropriate surfaces. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this behavior and provide practical tips on how to redirect your cat’s scratching habits.

Why Do Cats Scratch?

Cats scratch for several reasons:

  • Communication: Scratching allows cats to mark their territory, sending a clear message of “This is where I live.”
  • Marking Territory: Cats have sweat glands in their foot pads that leave scents behind when they scratch. These scents serve as reminders to other cats that this is a cat’s domain.
  • Exercise: Scratching is a form of exercise for cats. It helps them stretch their muscles and keep them toned.
  • Claw Maintenance: Scratching removes the outer layer of a cat’s front claws, enabling new nails to grow healthily.

How To Use Scratching Posts To Redirect Behavior


Redirecting your cat’s scratching behavior can be achieved by providing appropriate alternatives such as scratching posts or cat trees. When selecting a scratching post, make sure it is at least three feet tall with a sturdy base. This allows your cat to stretch their spine and muscles properly and exercise their claws.

A cat tree can provide your cat with multiple opportunities to scratch, climb, and exercise. Look for one that is stable and well-balanced to prevent accidents and ensure your cat feels secure while using it.

Consider the material of the scratching post. Cats often prefer sisal, a rope-like material. If your cat has been scratching on carpet or fabric, avoid choosing a post covered in similar material. This helps to avoid confusion and encourages your cat to use the designated scratching area.

If your cat prefers scratching horizontally, you can invest in inexpensive scratchers made of corrugated cardboard. These provide a satisfying surface for your cat to scratch on.

To encourage your cat to use the scratching post, you can rub some catnip on it. Catnip is irresistible to most cats and can help attract them to the appropriate scratching surface. Additionally, reward your cat with treats when they use the scratching post initially. Positive reinforcement will reinforce this desired behavior.

Remember, it may take some time and patience for your cat to transition to the new scratching area. Be consistent and reward your cat each time they use the designated surface. With practice, your cat will learn to enjoy their scratching post, and your furniture will be spared from their sharp claws.


Scratching is an innate behavior for cats, and it serves various purposes. Instead of discouraging your cat from scratching, redirecting their behavior to appropriate surfaces is the key. By providing suitable scratching posts or cat trees, using enticing materials, and rewarding your cat’s positive behavior, you can effectively train them to use the designated areas. Remember, patience and consistency are essential for success.


Q: Why do cats scratch furniture?

A: Cats may scratch furniture when they don’t have appropriate alternatives for scratching, or they simply prefer the texture of your furniture. By providing scratching posts and proper training, you can redirect their behavior.

Q: How can I prevent my cat from scratching my carpet?

A: To prevent your cat from scratching the carpet, make sure to provide suitable scratching posts or horizontal scratchers. Place them near the areas your cat tends to scratch and encourage the use of these alternatives.

Tips and Advice

Here are a few extra tips and advice to help you redirect your cat’s scratching behavior:

  • Observe your cat’s scratching habits and identify their preferred surfaces. Provide scratching posts or scratchers that match their preferences.
  • Place scratching posts strategically near areas your cat frequently scratches, such as doorways or favorite furniture.
  • Keep the scratching posts and cat trees stable and well-balanced to prevent accidents and make your cat feel secure.
  • Regularly trim your cat’s nails to minimize the damage they can cause when scratching.
  • Consider using double-sided tape or aluminum foil on furniture to make it less appealing for scratching.

By implementing these tips and understanding your cat’s needs, you can enjoy a scratch-free home while allowing your cat to engage in their natural behavior.