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Why Do Cats Scratch?

We’ve all been there before. After spending a long afternoon selecting a new pair of curtains, a new sofa or a new carpet, we take our purchases home and bask in the transformation of the living room. Then, in next to no time, our beloved cat starts taking her claws to the new fabric. While some might think that this behaviour is just payback for a lack of tuna or attention, there really is more to it than that. All cats have a real need to scratch and this blog post will delve more into why this trait is so necessary.

De-Clawing: The Elephant in the Room

It goes without saying that scratching is a normal, instinctive behaviour and we are strongly against any form of declawing. Claws play an important part of a cat’s physical and mental health and the pain resulting from the procedure can last a lot longer than the de-clawing process itself. A recent study in American found that declawing can result in long-lasting discomfort which can lead to withdrawn and aggressive behaviour. Please click here if you’re interested in the conclusions of that study.

Why scratching is important for cats

Scratching’s primary function is to remove the outer sheath of the nail that dies over time, helping to expose the new layer of nail beneath. This facilitates healthy nail production and allows sharpness to be maintained. For a cat who likes to climb, play, hunt and defend her territory, this is all important. Scratching is therefore a vital component of a cat’s natural health routine and should be actively encouraged.

Are there other benefits?

Cats also scratch to help stretch their back and shoulder muscles, which helps to alleviate stress and keeps them supple. For male cats in particular, scratching also acts as a way to leave a scent and mark their territory through a natural scent-gland within their paws. These are all instinctive, natural behaviours that cats need to perform if they are to thrive in the home as they do in the wild.

Claws in the Home

The goal in any home should be to encourage cats to scratch but only in places that are beneficial to the cat and acceptable to the homeowner. You should provide suitable scratching surfaces that appeal to a cat’s natural instinct and they should be placed in positions that are convenient and readily accessible. Sisal rope has been proven to be an excellent material for cats to scratch against. Whilst a good scratching post will greatly help a cat look after their claws, we would also recommend trimming a cat’s claws on a regular basis with specially selected cat trimmers. Just be careful not to cut into the pink portion of the nail and focus on the sharp ends, or the ‘hook’.

What options are there?

Over the past 3 months, our wonderful friends at Catipilla have been designed a Scratcher to be as appealing to a cat’s natural tendency to scratch as possible. They have selected materials that will last, and have ensured that the unit is waterproof and washproof. By using 100% recycled plastic and anodised aluminium, coupled with the finest South American sisal rope, this unit is both stylish and suitable for outdoor as well as indoor environments. They have done extensive testing and have designed a product that lives up to all the points outlined in this blog. We would recommend anyone to have a look at their product by clicking here if you have found this blog post to be interesting.