How to teach a cat to use a scratching post and why it is scratching furniture?
How to teach a cat to use a scratching post?
Scratching is an example of a serious behavioral problem in domestic cats.
Cats, as animals accompanying humans, more and more often nowadays live in close contact with their owners without leaving their homes and apartments.
As a result, their living space has been very limited, which has serious consequences for both parties.
Of course, being in a fully controlled and safe environment also has a number of benefits.
First of all, it extends the life of the cat by eliminating many natural threats that free-living animals have to deal with.
It does not expose the cat to traffic accidents, infectious diseases transmitted by other cats, external parasites and internal parasites or attacks from other, larger predators.
It allows you to fully control the way of nutrition, its quality and quantity, and to detect any medical problems in advance.
Due to the fact that the domestic cat lives in close company with its guardian, it is also monitored more closely, which results in a faster reaction and a chance to help in the event of any health deviations from the normal condition.
It is because of a beautiful, healthy appearance that many decide to have a domestic cat.
In big cities, it is also a bit of a necessity because outgoing cats very often suffer from traffic accidents resulting from heavy car traffic.
Keeping a cat only at home, however, unfortunately raises many behavioral problems with which desperate caregivers often simply cannot cope with.
We must realize that cats, as animals, have their needs resulting from the modes of life established over thousands of years, which we limit them in a certain, maybe not fully conscious way, which gives rise to just such and not other consequences.
So before we decide to have an animal, we should get to know its needs as thoroughly as possible and honestly answer the question:
if we are able to provide them.
But what if we already have a cat that creates problems? I will try to explain how to help him and how to deal with it, using the example of problems related to scratching.
This is a very common and still valid reason for visiting veterinary clinics where we seek help, and more than once a reason for not having a cat.
So what to do when our domestic cat destroys furniture and how to help himself and him in this situation, about this in the article.
- Understand the cat
- Why is the cat scratching?
- How to train your cat from scratching?
- Claw sharpening
- Marking by scratching
- Scratching due to owner's reaction
- The perfect cat scratcher
Understand the catThe natural needs of cats
As I mentioned, cats have grown in popularity as pets that are kept indoors and not outdoors in recent times.
Such a purely domestic cat often observes its surroundings only through the window pane, which does not allow it to fully meet all its natural needs.
Therefore, it is obvious that there are problems in the human-cat relationship.
Completely normal and correct behavior for a cat is not always like that for its guardian.
Abnormal behavior, incorrect from our point of view, very often results from the ignorance of the natural needs of the cat as a completely separate species than us.
Therefore, the natural approach of a person who decides to take a cat home should be to understand its behavior, life needs and provide it as close as possible to the natural environment in which it is to live.
I am writing about this at the very beginning to emphasize the undeniable fact that we and cats are, however, different and have different standards of behavior.
All the life requirements of a cat contribute to its welfare, i.e. a living environment in which our cat feels good, safe and has satisfied needs resulting from its bahawior.
Let us not be fooled by the fact that modern domestic cats are very different from their wild ancestors domesticated many thousands of years ago.
It is true that there is a huge gap between both of them, but let's not forget that many behaviors have not been obliterated and are still deeply rooted in the cat's behavior, despite living in a completely different environment.
Cats are obligatory carnivores that are carnivores, and although they get food served on a plate, they have never lost their hunting skills.
It is the hunting instinct ordering to kill small mammals, rodents is one of the basic, well-established natural behaviors characteristic of the cat species.
The entire metabolism of the domestic cat is somewhat subordinated to this.
We should remember that cats in the wild still hunt, providing their organisms with constant but small doses of food.
Such behavior is a condition of their health and is the most optimal lifestyle.
In home conditions, of course, there is no such possibility, but an attentive guardian will undoubtedly notice a cat coming to the bowl many times a day, where he can eat a bit of the given food.
Cats fulfill their natural hunting needs in their own specific territory, which must be properly marked by them.
This is valuable information for other individuals of the same species who should not enter and hunt in an area occupied by another cat.
As a reminder, special fragrances such as pheromones and the nose-nose organ, which is part of the olfactory apparatus of these animals, are used for this purpose.
This organ can be defined as a chemoreceptive, even object specialized in receiving chemical stimuli. It is located near the plow bone, inside the nasal cavity.
The area occupied by a given individual must be clearly and legibly marked as his, which constitutes information and, at the same time, a warning not to enter, stay, or hunt him.
Any violation of these boundaries may involve a confrontation and struggle with another individual defending what belongs to him.
Scratching it is just one way of marking a site and communicating information to individuals of the same species.
It is leaving visual warning and information signs for others in the environment surrounding the cat.
Outdoor cats often scratch trees, building fragments, fences, thus leaving visual signs for other animals.
There are scent glands on the fingertips, hence scratching also allows leaving odor signals, which additionally strengthens the transmission of information and makes it more distinct.
Cats, as we know, are perfectly natural predators hunting their prey. On the other hand, they themselves have to be careful not to fall prey to predators that are larger than themselves.
Claws therefore serve them as an element of defense and attack, and they condition gaining food, holding the captured victim.
So they must be in the right form because only then can they fully fulfill their task.
Scratching is therefore an activity that ensures proper care of claws. Scratching allows you to get rid of the dead coating, parts of the claw.
Interestingly, cats really take care of their claws even when they do not need them for food.
Scratching also involves taking a specific position of the whole body, in other words, the cat has to stretch and exercise the tendons and muscles involved in extending and retracting the claws.
More than one attentive guardian has probably noticed his cat scratching objects after resting or sleeping, which is related to the need to stretch the muscles and keep them in proper condition. These are a kind of natural cat exercises.
We must also know at the outset that the places the cat chooses for scratching depend on whether they want to stretch and exercise their claws or mark the area.
Preferred scratching sites may be alongside the cat's regularly chosen movement breeds, which are a sort of sign used for navigation.
These do not have to be the boundaries of the territory or space occupied by a cat, although it still happens in nature.
Scratching in the home environment, which is safe, constant and well-known to the cat, may be a signal that our cat does not feel well in it and not all of its needs are fully met.
It is certainly not an expression of the malice of a cat that wants to harm us and cause material losses for our good heart.
We should never think this way and even more so punish the cat for scratched objects, which will cause even more stress and we can aggravate this undesirable behavior.
Cats at home may leave claw marks in places where they feel the most insecure and endangered, i.e. entrances, doors, windows, i.e. where their habitat ends.
Cats choose a few favorite scratching spots and are unlikely to change, sticking to what they have already chosen.
Leaving signals by scratching is not a fully understood way of communicating cats.
By scratching objects, cats transmit information to other animals, avoiding direct contact with them, which is part of the survival strategy. Meeting face to face may end in injury and serious health consequences, so it's better not to fight if possible.
Cats like to control the environment in which they live and know perfectly well whether in a given place they can feel confident or rather be careful.
So scratching keeps you in control of your surroundings and makes the environment more predictable.
Cats are very strongly motivated to scratch precisely because of the important functions mentioned above.
They also scratch objects because they want to express their domination in an environment inhabited by several individuals. Sometimes this is also how they express positive emotions related to joy when, for example,. they hear the caregiver returning home from work.
So if we were to sum up, scratching is a completely natural activity, characteristic of the cat species.
Why is the cat scratching?
How to train your cat from scratching?
First of all, we should provide the cat with the possibility of sharpening its claws through the presence of scratching posts in its environment.
The places that our cat has chosen for scratching can be secured with a thick foil, of course, until the new ones proposed by us are fully accepted by the cat.
It is important not to change the position of the scratcher suddenly, but to move it gradually to a new place.
Usually, there are several places, it is not related to the activity of the owner, the scratching cat is relaxed, its head may rub against the scratching areas, and play at the same time.
Marking by scratching
First of all, we should try to find out why the cat marks this place with scratching, why it is crucial for him.
For example, it can be the crossroads of communication routes where cats living together in one house pass each other.
Then, the introduction of often minor environmental changes will effectively and permanently solve the nuisance.
They are marked in strategic places from the cat's point of view, it may appear as a consequence of increasing fear or anxiety and become a routine, the cat rarely rubs its head in these places, these are rather short and quick bouts of scratching, and the appearance of scratching is related to a stressful situation, e.g. changes at home.
Scratching due to owner's reaction
It may seem strange, but we should not shout at the cat, react when it sharpens its claws on furniture or other objects.
Such advice may seem difficult to many in practice, but it is the only correct solution.
We should consider how to change the environment and not punish the cat.
For example, you can replace valuable items with similar ones of low value.
Scratching may arise from a search, an attempt to get more of your master's attention.
Such scratching occurs when the guardian does not pay attention to the cat in its presence, in other words, ignores the cat or does not pay attention to it.
This type of scratching is similar to sharpening claws and marking.
The anxiety related to punishment is related to scratching places that are remote or hard to reach for the caregiver's eyes, it increases in his absence. The cat is often restless, runs away, gives the impression of being scared and reacts by running away to the human movement.
In some countries, claw amputation was until recently considered a radical solution to the fight against scratching.
In many civilized countries, however, these procedures were banned and considered unnecessary mutilation of the animal.
The treatment has a very negative effect on the cat's well-being, its well-being and we should never decide on it.
The simplest prophylactic solution in the case of scratching is to ensure that your cat has permanent access to a suitable scratching post.
It should be at home or in the garden.
We should not allow the cat to scratch "old " objects in the future as it may result in the future desire to scratch other, newer and those that are valuable to us.
When keeping several cats at home, it is worth trying to reduce the tension between them by providing safe areas and access to resources.
The handler should not shout at the cat as this behavior may strengthen the cat's feeling of the drug and thus worsen the situation.
In situations where we cannot deal with the problem, it is worth using the help of a professional who is undoubtedly a behaviorist.
It is an in-depth conversation with him that can often establish the source, the cause of the problem and help to solve it, thus ensuring the harmonious existence of both species in one environment.
When closing a cat at home, we should provide him with conditions similar to his existence and to express all his natural behavior.
So we should set up a scratching post or scratching post at home or allow the cat to express its natural behavior in any other way.
Some also recommend a safe form of deterring scratching cats by placing citrus plants near places chosen by the cat, which cats do not like, to put it mildly.
However, such treatments may change the scratching sites rather than fully solve the problem.
The perfect cat scratcherCat tree
The perfect scratching post, i.e. the object that we give to the cat in order to fulfill its need for scratching on it, must meet a number of features.
First of all, it should be stable and fixed in such a way that the cat can lean against it, in other words that the object can support the weight of the cat scratching.
The size of this item should be strictly adapted to the length of the cat, which should be able to stretch freely by hooking its claws on the surface of the scratching post.
The scratching post should be covered with fiber, braided rope, i.e. a material soft enough to stick claws into it.
We have a lot of scratchers on the pet market.
They do not always have to be free-standing objects, but sometimes also mats that can be attached to furniture or sofas.
Not all cats have to scratch objects vertically, sometimes they can choose horizontal surfaces (in home conditions, e.g. carpet, pieces of furniture or beds from below).
Domestic cats can in some way be encouraged to scratch these and not other places or objects.
The Feliway Feliscratch is used for this.
It is a product containing a synthetic cat pheromone intended for pouring on the scratching post, which we encourage the cat to scratch at this place.
During this activity, natural pheromones are released, completely natural for the cat, used to mark its own territory, which information is transmitted to other individuals of the same species.
The use of the preparation distracts cats from scratching other places in the apartment, so that furniture, armchairs or other objects are not damaged.
Reduces and reduces scratching of unwanted objects that can occur in a situation of fear and stress, when introducing new animals, or living more animals under one roof and competition for territory.
Feliway Feliscratch is a product in the form of a pipette, which is poured over scratchers and objects intended for scratching by cats.
The content of one package should be enough for about a month.
The scratcher can also be sprinkled with catnip or valerian, although not all cats react in these ways as if we were expecting.
However, this may encourage animals to scratch at these very spots.
On the scratching post, we can also put a toy on a string, which can also make it more attractive.
Either way is good and it's worth taking advantage of.
Every owner would like to have a cat at home that will never be a problem and will only give him the pleasure of his presence.
It is often impossible, because we forget about the natural, inborn behavior and needs of a cat, which have been preserved for thousands of years.
A perfect example of this is the need to scratch, in nature it is carried out on trees and at home often on everyday objects or furniture.
Then it is difficult for the caretakers to understand the behavior of the cat, which, from its own point of view, does nothing wrong but implements its own completely normal behavior, which ensures its well-being.
We should remember that it is us, the people who, by closing a cat in a cramped apartment, often radically limit the cat's needs and the possibility of their natural fulfillment.
So let's not be surprised when the cat has to somehow react and start scratching.
A cat never does anything out of spite, and any behavior is based on its deep justification.
All you need to do is get to know them, understand them, learn to coexist together, which will bring many benefits and joy for both parties, which I sincerely wish you all.
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