Cats scratch for a number of reasons, but most of them have to do with health and well being. If your multi-cat household is full of tension and fuzzy-cornered furniture, the good news is that you may only be a few scratching posts away from relief!
Why do cats scratch?
In the wild a cat would scratch against a rough object, like the bark of a tree. It helps to shed the outer layer of the claw, allowing for new growth. Especially for domestic cats, scratching is also a much needed way to stretch the tendons in their paws that don’t get much use otherwise.
Scratching behaviors in cats are also a way to relieve stress. Since it leaves both a visual and scent marking on the object, scratching can make a cat feel more at ease because he or she feels like they are in the boundaries of his or her territory. Cats may also scratch to redirect aggression, so you’ll want to have multiple scratching posts handy or else the closest object on which to vent frustration could be your leg!
How many posts should you have?
You can never have enough scratching posts, so you should use the same golden rule as use to determine how many litter boxes you need. That would be one per cat, plus one per floor, and one more for good measure. Especially for multi-cat households, you’ll also want to provide a variety of textures and formats to give your kitties many options.
What kinds of scratching posts work well?
Cat trees are a great choice because they add more vertical territory to your home, and the support posts double as scratching posts when they are either wrapped in sisal or left as bare wood. Horizontal scratch boards made from cardboard are also a good option. Don’t throw them away if they start to look raggedy, though, because they are the best for deep claw extension and carry strongest scent marks from repeated use.
Where should scratching posts be placed?
A good place to start is by placing a scratching post directly in front of an object that your cat may have already been scratching inappropriately. Usually the arms of couches, corners of walls, the sides of doors, and box springs are all tempting targets to a kitty without a proper scratching post. You’ll also want to have at least one per room, so that your kitty can use it to stake a claim in his or her territory.
Another good clue should come from observing your cats. Do they like to scratch after playtime? After using the litter box? After waking up? After someone rang the doorbell? Once you’ve discovered the pattern, you can place your scratching posts accordingly.
Do your cats like to scratch in places that they shouldn’t? Be sure to let your sitter know! Our cat sitters keep a sharp eye out for any behaviors that need to be corrected during our in home pet sitting visits.
Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.
Photo by Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay.