GREENE COUNTY — When frisky kitties shred new sofas, the cats probably did not do it out of spite or even aggression. Cats do not claw at things because they are inherently bad pets. Rather, the urge to scratch is buried within their DNA.
According to the pet adoption and animal welfare resource the Animal Care Centers of New York City, scratching is a normal part of cat behavior. Scratching is a good form of exercise for cats, enabling cats to stretch out their limbs and paws.
Scratching also serves the purpose of removing the outer nail sheaths so they can be shed and the nails can be naturally maintained. VetStreet.com says that cats also scratch to leave visual and olfactory markers to other animals. Glands that are located between the pads of the paws leave odors behind wherever the cat has scratched. Other cats know to investigate or avoid the area thanks to the scent and visual hint.
Unfortunately for cat owners, scratching can be problematic when the healthy behavior is not focused on objects that should be scratched. When furniture, walls, bedding, or more are targeted by cats, the damage can be irreparable.
Presenting alternatives that are fun can focus cats’ attention on scratching elsewhere. Experiment with store-bought or homemade scratching posts. The back of a carpet square, some corrugated cardboard or a rope-covered post may suffice, offers The Humane Society of the United States.
Scratching where it is not desired can also be dissuaded by placing an appropriate scratching post next to the off-limits item. Use food treats as rewards when the cat scratches responsibly. Place double-sided tape or aluminum foil on items that shouldnÕt be scratched, as those textures often keep cats away.
If redirecting the scratching does not work, cat owners can seek the help of a veterinarian for more advice.