Scratching is an innate behavior in cats, however, when it is carried out in a general and compulsive way on our furniture or fabrics, it can become very undesirable and annoying behavior . In addition, we must also ask ourselves if there is any type of problem that is promoting this behavior, such as a possible problem of stress and anxiety.
Does your cat scratch absolutely everything? In this article from Expert Animal we will explain why cats scratch and most importantly: how to prevent your cat from scratching everything . We will offer you management guidelines, education tips and we will also review some market products that you can use or discard in this process. Start solving this problem today!
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- Why is my cat scratching everything?
- How to prevent the cat from scratching everything?
- Is the use of repellent spray for cats effective?
Why is my cat scratching everything?
If we study the ethogram of a cat , that is, the set of behaviors typical of the species, we will observe that scratching is a representative behavior and that it also has various meanings .
Cats begin to scratch when they are puppies , because in this way they explore and begin to develop their reflexes for hunting . Importantly, both behaviors are closely intertwined. Scratches are usually made against other members of their family, such as their parents and siblings, but it is also common for them to attack our ankles, the toys they have and even to try to catch insects or birds that watch through the window. At this stage, then, cats will instinctively scratch to prepare for hunting.
Once the socialization stage is over , when the cat enters his youth, he continues to carry out this activity, but he also begins to carry it out as an entertaining habit , aimed at rugs, curtains and other items. Likewise, returning to hunting behavior, they scratch to sharpen their nails , essential in capturing prey and defending them. If they are not provided with a scraper, they will begin to scratch furniture and other household objects, causing a preference for those places.
When the cat reaches sexual maturity, it begins to carry out the marking behavior , which consists of rubbing, urinating or scratching, behaviors that favor the presence of pheromones in the environment in which they reside. All this allows them to feel more comfortable, as well as delimiting their territory and alerting other cats in the area. The marking with the nails allows the release of pheromones in certain places, such as trunks and posts, and it is another form of communication.
Finally, stress and anxiety are other factors that would explain why our cat scratches furniture and other objects. Through these behaviors, which are often unpleasant for guardians, the cat will express that its well-being is compromised, so it will look for behaviors that make it feel more secure . Regardless of the marking, a cat with high levels of stress can begin to defecate and urinate in other areas of the home, as well as carrying out abnormal behaviors, such as excessive dependence, hyperactivity or apathy.
Loneliness, changes in the home or lack of environmental enrichment can cause stress in the cat, a behavior problem that also affects his health , since it predisposes him to get sick more easily.
How to prevent the cat from scratching everything?
Since scratching has multiple meanings and does not necessarily represent negative behavior to be avoided, we should encourage our cat to scratch the appropriate places . For this, we must offer several scratchers (we recommend a minimum of two for each cat in the home) of different types and textures, in this way we can discover which is the favorite of our feline. We will place the scrapers near the area where they usually scratch and we can even cover the scratched furniture with textures that the cat finds unpleasant, which will help it to avoid them.
Importantly, punishment is totally contraindicated , as it increases stress levels in the cat. For this reason, we advise you to bet on positive reinforcement , which can include the use of kind words, tasty prizes or caresses, which will favor our cat associating the fact of scratching the scratchers with something positive, thus encouraging behavior in objects that we consider adequate.
To motivate our cat to use the scratchers , we can use some tricks, such as the use of catnip, but also, there are very useful and effective articles on the market, such as by FELIWAY®, a product that contains an exact synthetic copy of the natural pheromones that cats release during marking, which encourages them to use the areas that contain it , in addition to promoting their well-being.
Likewise, we must not forget that physical and mental stimulation is essential to get a cat to channel its energy properly. The use of intelligence toys, socialization with their caregivers or physical activity is essential to make our feline happy, in addition to guaranteeing the feeling of security through adequate food, preventive medicine and care are essential.
When we talk about cats with high levels of stress and anxiety, we must be aware that providing them with only scratchers is not going to solve the problem. In these cases we advise having the opinion of a veterinary ethologist , as well as making use of other complementary products, such as synthetic pheromones for cats , which improve well-being and transmit calm at home.
Last but not least, highlight that cleaning is essential to eliminate the odor of the cat’s own pheromones. We advise you to use enzymatic products and / or ethyl alcohol to eliminate traces in inappropriate places, such as furniture, rugs or curtains.
Is the use of repellent spray for cats effective?
The market is full of products that claim to prevent cats from scratching furniture, whether caused by marking or stress, however it is important to note that most of these items are not endorsed or endorsed by studies . In addition, in some cases, these products can be uncomfortable for our cats, which will increase their stress and discomfort at home.
For this reason, we advise you to inform yourself before purchasing any product and to look for serious and committed companies that carry out scientific research that supports its use , such as the one we have previously mentioned to motivate the cat to scratch.