The Star-Herald

To scratch or not?

If you have had the pleasure of owning a frisky feline, then you have probably experienced the little darlings playfully scratching where they shouldn’t be.  

Scratching behavior in cats starts at around 5 weeks of age and each cat will have its own individual preference of scratching surfaces or type of scratcher.  They particularly like wood, fabric, carpet (which unfortunately is all attached to our nice home furnishings), but they especially love cardboard. Who hasn’t had a delivery to your home and immediately seen your kitties on the box, spending days sitting inside the box if you are willing to leave it there for their entertainment?

Here are some tips for preventing unwanted scratching.

Ensure there are multiple scratching surfaces available — even if there is only one cat in the household. This is advised for all resources (if space allows) and can help prevent conflict, which may reduce excessive scratching caused by social stress.

Locate scratching surfaces near where the cat sleeps, as they like to stretch and scratch after sleeping. Other good places include the room where the cat spends the most amount of time — this may be in the owner’s favorite room, on the edge of the cat’s territory, near the entrance or exit to a room, or especially near areas where your cat has already scratched.

Catnip and treats can be used to encourage cats to scratch in a desired place.

Owners should never punish cats for scratching, as this will only cause fear or anxiety and may trigger more scratching episodes.

Cats like some resistance when they scratch, but some older cats may prefer softer surfaces such as cardboard or carpet. They may also favor flatter surfaces to scratch on, but this can very much depend on the cat.

Cat owners should consider the following when choosing a scratching surface for their cats.

The taller the better with posts. Cats like to stretch when they scratch, so a post should be nice and tall.

Consider the cat’s age, previous preferences and lifestyle when choosing a scratching surface.

Ideally there should be one scratching surface per cat and a spare in multi-cat households — choices are good! 

Remove any dangling toys from scratching posts. They are dangerous because cats can get their claws stuck in them, which is super painful for them.

Don’t forget to provide scratching surfaces outdoors as well as indoors where possible.  More great tips can be found at the Cat Nurse on Facebook.

At the end of the day, all we want is for our fur babies to be happy and healthy and our reward is a sleeping, content kitty stretched out on our laps or curled up on our bed.

Stop by the Central Aroostook Humane Society or check us out on Facebook for animals up for adoption.  Please be responsible — spay and neuter your pets.

Gloria J.Towle is the secretary and a member of the board of directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.

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