Cats like to scratch, as any cat guardians will be able to tell you. Scratching is a natural behavior for cats for several reasons, so if you want to save your favourite couch or chair, there’s one Tip Tuesday video from the BC SPCA that offers sound advice.
“What we have to remember – even if your cat is destroying your couch – is that it’s really important for cats to be able to scratch, so it’s important to give them something to scratch,” say BC SPCA manger of animal welfare Kim Monteith. “Cats scratch for a few different reasons. They do it to communicate – to leave a visual marker that tells other cats they were there, even if you only have one cat – and to leave a scent mark.”
Another reason is to condition their claws, Monteith notes. By scratching, cats shed the old, outer layer of claws that become worn and frayed to expose the new, sharper ones underneath.
“Cats also scratch as part of their stretching behaviour – they use their claws to anchor them down as they stretch paw, back and leg muscles,” Monteith says. “They often like to do this after a nap.”
To preserver your furniture, you can pick up several scratching options for your cat at the local pet store, from large scratching posts to carpeted accessories, sisal ropes, corrugated cardboard or wood, Monteith says.
“Placing scratching posts or devices that allow your cat to stretch his whole body out is key,” she adds. “Scratch posts should be at least the length of your cat’s body so he can stretch his entire body length. And don’t forget to reward them when they’re scratching their post!”
If you catch your cat in the act of scratching, it is imperative not to scold them or get angry or squirt water at them, says Monteith.
“Cats need to scratch. It comes naturally to them, so if you see them scratching, don’t tell them they’re naughty, but interrupt the behaviour, by distracting them with another toy, like dropping a ping pong ball,” she says. “Once they’re distracted, you can shake their treats bag and reward them, and again, make sure they have something to scratch other than your furniture.”