cat scratching and clawing

Cat Clawing and Scratching Furniture?

Sometimes excessive clawing is the only sign that your cat is worried. Let’s help him out.  Book a consultation today with our veterinarian and Harvard-trained Certified Cat Behaviorist.

When cats claw and scratch furniture, they’re performing a natural feline behavior. It’s only deemed a behavior issue if we the owners don’t like where the clawing is occurring. However, there could be other reasons why your cat is clawing, especially if he’s doing so excessively. We’ll help you to identify the environmental triggers for his anxiety that are possibly leading him to claw-mark excessively and release any pent-up tension. Then we’ll show you how to provide them for a lasting remedy.  Our clinic has over 200 testimonials on our website since 1999.

Excerpt from Mieshelle Nagelschneider’s Feline Science Behavior Book, The Cat Whisperer™, on Cat Clawing and Scratching Behavior

It’s in the nature of animals, who have a distressing disregard for sticker prices, sometimes to just tear things up.Cats will claw silk drapes into streamers, rugs into shreds, and couches into something that resembles the furniture you see at the most depressing yard sale you’ve ever been to. Or they do other things to annoy us, like jumping on the computer keyboard, plucking food off the dining room table while you’re calling the guests in to eat, or licking the butter you left on the kitchen counter—even though you have sat them down many times and carefully explained how the cons of such behaviors outweigh the pros. Luckily, you can stop all of these behaviors—humanely.

Shredders and Snaggers: Why Cats Claw

Have you ever wondered why your cat runs to your sofa and claws when you enter the room or come home from work? Although clawing things is partly about removing old claw sheaths and is necessary to nail maintenance, cats also claw to mark territory, to exercise, and to relieve pent-up emotions. Cats are masters at destressing. They have many ways to release emotional energy even without a membership at a yoga studio.

Cats claw mark their territory with both a visual and a scent mark:

The latter from the glands between their paw pads. In a single-cat household these marks give the cat a sense of familiarity and security. In multi-cat households, cats will, not surprisingly, scratch mark more often than single cats. Even cats whose toes have been amputated will paw to place their scent in certain locations around the home. The marks may also warn other cats and help all concerned to avoid physical confrontation. One study recently pointed out that cats have not been observed to actually smell claw marks left by other cats, so it may be that the visual marks are enough—as may be the ostentation of a dominant cat scratching in front of a subordinate cat.

Clawing also allows cats to stretch and exercise. Cats are digitigrade, meaning they walk on their toes instead of the soles of their feet or paws. Their ligaments, nerves, tendons, muscles, and leg and paw joints are all designed to distribute and support the cat’s weight across its toes as it walks and runs. Cats use their claws for balance, for the climbing that’s so important to their feelings of safety, and to stretch the muscles in their back, shoulders, legs, and paws. They stretch their muscles by digging their claws into a surface and then pulling back in a form of isometric exercise. In fact, clawing is probably the only way they can exercise the muscles of their backs and shoulders.

Clawing is a completely natural behavior that cats should be allowed to perform, but there’s no reason to regard clawing on undesirable objects, such as couches, as inevitable—which most owners do. For example, in one study of 122 cats whose owners viewed them as having no behavior problems, 60 percent of the cats scratched furniture.

If you’re one of these people, I can show you how to make sure your cat claws only in desirable places. There are humane and effective solutions. But first, a word about the inhumane practice and Orwellian linguistic dodge called “declawing.”