Cat Scratching Behavior

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

By: Caroline Montgomery, DVM

Recently a study was conducted to examine the aspects of a cat's environment that affect inappropriate cat scratching behavior.

Franklin is very good about using the cat tree for appropriate scratching and vertical territory
Franklin is very good about using the cat tree for appropriate scratching and vertical territory

Internet surveys were posted on several public websites. Over 4,300 responses were collected over a 4-month period. The following conclusions were drawn:

  • Owners traditionally offered rope, cardboard, carpet, and wood scratching posts. Carpet was most frequently offered, but rope was the substrate that cats used most frequently. Geriatric cats (over the age of 10), however, preferred carpet.

  • Cats prefer simple upright posts or cat trees at least 3 feet tall and with two levels. Narrower posts (with bases less that 3 feet wide) were preferred to posts with wider bases.

  • Neutered/spayed cats were as likely to scratch inappropriately as intact cats.

  • Inappropriate scratching decreased with age.

  • Inappropriate scratching decreased as the number and style of posts increased. Surprisingly, the behavior did not increase as the number of other animals in the house increased.

Metro Cat Clinic does not believe in declawing cats to prevent this behavior. We suggest the application of Soft Paws to inhibit the cat's ability to scratch, until the cat no longer feels the need to scratch.

Soft Paws are plastic sheaths that slip over the cat's front claws. They are applied with an adhesive that is squirted into the sheath before it is applied. The claws are trimmed before the Soft Paws are applied, and they usually stay in place for six to eight weeks. We carry the clear tips in a variety of sizes, but for the more fashion-forward cats, owner can purchase the tips in various colors, with and without glitter! Call us if you need more information about Soft Paws.

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