Why do cat scratch? Do they have a natural instinct?
It is very common for cats to be somewhere in the corner just scratching on the furniture, the floor, or maybe on the wooden surface of the door. And this might cause some concern for those people who own a pussycat, but this is quite normal, and there is nothing to worry about. There is nothing wrong with your thriving kitty. It does not have any unpleasant intent to destroy the furniture or doors. When you show your frustration and anger, your furry companion might start to fear you instead.
Therefore, understanding this particular behavior of cats goes a long way in maintaining a good and loving relationship with them. They can be your BFFs for all you know!
Why Do Cats Scratch?
There are several answers to 'why do cats scratch?' or 'why do cats like to scratch?' The primary reason is that it is an innate behavior, while sometimes, they are just trying to have some fun. Let us explore the top reasons below:
- To Maintain Healthy Claws
The most common reason is that scratching removes the dead outer layer of your kitty's nails. Most people misinterpret this behavior of a cat to sharpening its nails since it has been a common belief for many, but the reality is that they are just trying to get rid of those dull ones.
You may wonder why do cats scratch furniture. Cats also scratch on certain furniture to mark their territory. Those scratches they put on objects can be a sign of warning to other cats. They also have special scent glands on their paws, which they use for marking their claimed territory. A cat's nose is about fourteen times more active than a human's nose. While the human nose cannot practically detect it, your little cat can, so can other cats. And through this scent, a cat will come to know that this territory has already been claimed.
- To Stretch and Flex
Another reason why your overactive feline scratches is to stretch and flex their claws and feet. But why do cats scratch with back paws and not just the forepaws? Scratching keeps their joints and tendons healthy. This applies not only to the forepaws, but it also holds the same for the rear paws as well. Cats usually scratch after a nap, which strengthens their muscles. So, this is an essential routine for cats, so let your kitty continue her activity as long as she keeps her scratching within a normal extent.
- To Show Excitement or Frustration
Sometimes your feline companion may scratch when she is excited or frustrated over something like seeing another pet or a bird that they cannot get a hold of. This results in more scratching as your cat has no other way to express her emotions.
Cats and Butts
Have you ever had a cat arching and lifting its butt high when you scratch at the base of its tail? About 90% of cats react to this action. But why do cats react to butt scratch? Two reasons play an essential role here.
- Stimulation of Nerve Endings
Your kitty's butt has a concentration of nerve endings. This makes the particular area more sensitive than the rest of the body. Scratching or petting stimulates the nerve ends. Scratching their butt releases two powerful hormones in your cat, such as oxytocin or dopamine, which brings your cat a feeling of happiness and relaxation.
- 'Kitten Again' Notion
Some people believe that scratching a cat's butt plays a similar receptive role as a mother cat grooming her kittens. In this sense, a cat may feel pampered and feel like it is a kitten again since arched backs are a common behavior in young ones.
Cats and Food
While many people have many theories to share regarding why do cats scratch over their food, the below two reasons can be considered as the most appropriate answer to the question.
- Burying Attempt
Animals like to bury and hide their food. Your cat fares no better when it comes to attempting to bury their food. They will scratch at their food on the bowl in hopes that they can somehow bury the content in it.
As mentioned above, a cat's paws contain scent glands which they use to mark their territory and boundary. So when you see your cat intently scratching over their food, she is trying to leave a message to other animals that the food belongs to her and no one else.
Minimize Your Feline Scratches
Although it is fun to watch your cat at play, sometimes cat scratching comes at the cost of your furniture and walls. The best way to prevent this scratching spree, which one may call it, from happening, is to put up some scratching posts near the places where the cats usually tend to scratch upon.
Some people make their own scratching post, which is sturdy and covered with rope or perhaps merely an old carpet with the backside facing up so the cat can have a good scratch out of it. Cats love to scratch on surfaces such as the ones just mentioned.
It is also advisable to often clip the nails of your fussy friend because sometimes if they are left untrimmed, your cat's claws can start growing longer, which is harmful to both the cat as well as their surroundings. They can lead to infections and may also cause difficulty for the cat to walk. Also, by trimming their nails, the unwanted scratches on curtains and couches can be prevented.
Cats are natural-born predators, and scratching falls under a normal feline behavior. It is inevitable to prevent them from doing so entirely. It is crucial to resort to the above mentioned preventive measures to minimize the damage caused by their scratching. If you want a great relationship with your kitty, make sure you understand her behavior just as you would try to understand your BFF.