Nothing’s more natural than a cat’s desire to scratch. “Cats have an innate need to scratch,” explains Amy Shojai, certified animal behavior consultant. “It’s instinctual and hardwired into the kitty brain.” This is why declawing a cat can be so distressing. The procedure removes the last knuckle of the animal’s foot and can result in pain, infections, problems in the litter box, nerve damage, frustration and forced suppression of urges. In order to be happy and healthy, your cat needs an appropriate outlet for scratching, like his very own cat scratcher. But before we get to that, let’s look at how a cat uses his nails.
Cat Nails 101
When cats walk around, their nails actually retract into their paws, causing them to walk on their toes in order to protect their nails from everyday wear and tear. Cats sharpen their nails to remove the cracked and dead outer layers by scratching and clawing. They’ve pretty much perfected their at-home nail care routine.
Not only do cats have the natural tendency to scratch and sharpen their claws, but they also use their nails to reach up and grip onto various materials to stretch out their muscles and flex their feet. Nails are also very important in helping a cat jump and climb. Cats even scratch territorially to mark their space. “Scratch graffiti marks objects as owned by the cat with both visible and scent signals,” says Shojai. Unfortunately, however, our cats don’t always scratch and stretch where they’re supposed to.
This behavior, though occasionally destructive, should not be discouraged. Instead, natural scratching behaviors should be redirected to a more appropriate place than your living room sofa or kitchen curtains. cat scratching posts allow cats to channel their instincts without damaging your valuable drapes, tables, bedding or carpets.
Looking for Scratching Solutions
For a cat, climbing trees and perching in branches to escape predators and stalk prey is second nature. Although cats have evolved tremendously into the domesticated home pets that we know them as today, their natural urges remain mostly unchanged.
To prevent your cat from autographing all your furniture, you’ll want to find a cat scratcher that is appropriate for your cat’s needs. Shojai recommends that “cat lovers listen to the [cat’s] preferences. Cats tell you what they want by the items they target. If the cat scratches carpet, provide a legal scratch object that’s covered in carpet.”
A Few of Our Favorites
Let’s check out some of our favorite cat scratchers to find your kitty’s perfect fit. For cats that enjoy fuzzy, woven materials, try The Ultimate Scratching Post from SmartCat. It’s great for small spaces and tall enough for your cat to stretch out and tone his muscles without snagging his nails on your carpets and drapes. The Frisco 52-Inch Cat Tree is an all-in-one alternative for a bigger space. With the added benefits of a kitty apartment, a play area with a dangling toy, several perches, a scratch board ramp and five scratching posts, this cat tree house is the perfect environment for your pet to call home.
Cats that prefer a cardboard surface can sink their claws into the KONG Naturals Cat Scratcher. This inclined cat scratcher allows your fluffy friend to fulfill his instincts with an environmentally friendly, double-sided scratch pad made with renewable resources that are also recyclable.
If your cat really loves an interactive experience, the Bergan Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy will satisfy his need for scratching with an extra element of fun. He’ll be entertained for hours with the movable ball that spins around the center cardboard scratcher.
Give your cat something to meow about by encouraging, rather than suppressing, his natural urges. When you find the right scratcher, your furniture will be claw-free, and you’ll have one happy kitty.