Friday, August 17, 2012

Cats Scratch

I know this may seem silly, but let’s talk about cats and scratching.  I’ve been thinking of this lately….because I recently opened my home to a sweet little kitty who was no longer wanted by her previous owner, after many years. She is de-clawed on her 2 front feet. Living with 2 indoor-outdoor cats it is hard to keep her from escaping outside. She loves it out there and my worries about her ability to protect herself eased when I witnessed her bully my confident male cat into submission.

So on to cat scratching. This sweet old cat is enjoying her life in my home with abundant healthy food, laps to sit on and love. Her happiness overtakes her to the point where she finds herself pawing at the scratching post out of sheer pleasure.  A sad scene to watch, however, as her little nubs rub on the post and I swear a look of confusion on her face.

What would make a de-clawed cat scratch? Cats do scratch to exercise their muscles, and groom their nails but also to scent their territory and to visually mark it. Neat huh? And you thought cats scratched your couches just to be mean and annoying.  Each cat has their own personal preferences for perfect scratching spots, some like vertical surfaces others like horizontal. Also, according to veterinary behaviorist Jacqueline Neilson, the spot needs to be sturdy, have traction, be tall or long enough for a full length stretch and  placed in a prominent location.

To succeed in providing this wonderful exercise and enjoyable activity for your cat, test and observe your cat to see if they like horizontal or vertical surfaces. If they scratch your carpet-horizontal. The upright of your couch? Vertical. One of my favorite cat scratchers is a corrugated cardboard box on the floor, corrugations exposed.  For vertical scratching posts you must get one they cannot knock over and it must be high enough for them to stand on their hind legs and reach up and tear on it. Any home with a new kitten must have a tall cat tree. Although it may be expensive, it saves couches and carpets and lives. Many cats love scratching on wood so why not bring a log in for the cat.

Oh, one other thing….once the item is all shredded and worn do not change it for a new one. They worked hard to get it that way and they like it that way.  Their scent is on it. Life is perfect, if not pretty.

Some tricks that have been employed to prevent scratching on unwanted items: tin foil applied to the surface or double stick tape. No cat likes to have a dainty paw stuck to tape.

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