Four Reasons Your Cat Needs to Scratch
Cats Need to Scratch: 4 Reasons Why
You just bought a new couch and you're really excited. And so is your cat. You can almost hear your little furry friend cracking their little cat knuckles in anticipation. That couch will be theirs (along with everything else in the house) and it will begin with ... scratching.
You attempt a preemptive prohibition against the defacing of your new furniture with a few gentle repeats of the word "no" as your cat eyes the arm of your temporarily pristine couch. It's worth a shot, you think. Your cat might even pay attention to your directive, particularly if you have given them other options. But if they give it a go anyway, you don't have take it personally. Cats simply need to scratch. It's important for their physical and mental health.
But why? You feed them, you love them and they no longer need to defend themselves, except against their catnip-infused cloth banana toy. So why the scratching?
Here are four reasons why.
- The Purrfect Exercise
We all now how great it feels to have a good stretch. We do it when we get up in the morning. We do it before exercise. We even do it if we've been sitting on our new couch for hours watching Netflix. It revitalizes. The same is true for your cat. They might even love it more than we do.
Stretching makes cats feel good and helps them stay in shape. And scratching? For cats, scratching is a way to stretch. Reaching out to scratch and the resistance it provides helps them stretch not only their paws, but also their back and legs. These are the same muscles involved in running and climbing. And while your cat may have nothing more to fear in life than a late breakfast, they don't know that. So instinctively want to stay in shape and feel confident in their ability to navigate their environment. Scratching is a part of that. Even if their only after-scratch activity is another nap.
- Marking their Territory
Cats are territorial. They like their own space. After all, who doesn't? And while we mark our spaces with matching Bed, Bath and Beyond towel sets. They mark their territory with their own unique scent. Cats' scent glads are dispersed around their bodies, including the area's of their cheeks, chins, foreheads and mouths. They also have scent glands in their paws. Specifically, the glands are located between their paw pads. Scratching helps stretch the paws and activate the glands, leaving your cat's scent behind. This not only makes them feel comfortable and their space familiar, but in the wild, the scent, along with the claw marks and discarded claw husks, serve to leave a clear signal to any other cats who have entered what your cat considers their territory.
Fair enough. But why your couch, you ask? Take it as a compliment. They are also marking you and your shared territory. You’re leaving your scent there and they want to mark you as their own.
Woman, man or cat. We all have our grooming rituals. Some of us taking longer to complete our rituals than others. But that's probably best left for a different blog. Point is, scratching is part of your cat's grooming. Scratching helps your cat remove the dead outer layer of their claws. Removing the dead outer layer is important because it exposes the new, emerging nails underneath. Gross, you say. Well, without opposable thumbs its a little hard for your cat to work a nail clipper. And if your cat were in the wild, they would have lots of trees to scratch on.
Your cat really needs a rough surface they can dig into and to which their nails can adhere while they pull and scratch. If you give your furry friend something specifically designed for cat scratching, such as one of our awesome play boxes with a built-in scratching pad, they might just be less likely to test out your new couch.
- Stress Relief!
Another reason cats scratch is that doing so relieves anxiety. Anxiety? Your cat sleeps all day. Occasionally yawns and then baps you on the nose in the middle of the night for fun. What is there to be anxious about? Well, let us not judge until we have walked a mile in someone else's paws. Maybe you have just moved to a new apartment, maybe you have introduced a new cat to your family, maybe the conflict with that squirrel on the other side of the window has grown personal. We just don't know. Either way, some nice scratching is going to make them feel better.
And if they’re scratching a lot? They might have a lot of anxiety you are unaware of. Helping them expend energy with play can also relieve stress and anxiety. After that, you could take a nap together. And then play some more. Your cat will love it. And so will you.
So know you know why cats need to scratch and that it is actually healthy for them to do so. So if you get them something to specific to scratch, such as one of our cat play, scratch and sleep boxes, they just might leave your new couch alone.