Service Cats: Why Cats Scratch And Where

MeOW and welcome to a brand new Service Cat Monday. We thought we’d do somethin’ a little bit different today. This post will still be educational and pawrt of our Service Cat series, as we’ll be focusing on feline behavior along with some training tips. But, we’ll also be introducing you to one of our give away products this month. You’ll have to come back Wednesday fur the give away. So, let me get the business outta the way and we can get right to it. The followin’ post will be written in human English fur reader and translator ease. Our Service Cat Monday posts aren’t intended to be an all inclusive Trainin’ Manual but rather Tips, Tricks and Techniques used/developed by mommy A thru her many years of animal trainin’, cats in purrticular. And to offur insight into your questions about Feline Behavior. Ifin you have any questions or topics you would like us to cover, purrlease let us know in the comments section or send us an email. When asking behavioral questions, purrlease be as specific as pawssible. And, ifin you’ve missed any of the posts in this series, you can ketch up by clickin’ the links at the end of this post. Always remember, Training is all ‘bout Repetition and Rewards.


Dezi laying in cat tree in new harness



Our Service Cat Monday posts include Training topics for all cats, not just Service Cats. We believe all cats can live happier lives with a little basic Training. We previously discussed inherent behaviors that drive each and every cat on the planet whether big or small. Today, we’re going to focus our discussion on Scratching. All cats have the need to Scratch. We are against declawing!!! However, even a declawed cat has the need to scratch. Please, DO NOT DECLAW your cat.


Dezi's huge paw reaching for the camera



Let’s take a look at the feline paw and talk about why cats Scratch. Visible to the eyes are the paw pads, and claws; although mine are hidden by fur tufts. What the eye doesn’t see are the bones, tendons and ligaments that make the feline paw so special. Most cats have the ability to extend or retract their claws at will. Like the human fingernail/toenail, the tip of the cat’s claw is dead. And, just like with the human fingernail/toenail, a portion of that claw is also alive, and connected to the paw by bone, tendons, ligament and muscle. The paw pads also contain scent glands. As we discussed in a previous post, cats see their world through scent more than through the eyes. You can NOT remove a cat’s claws without removing bone. That bone is similar to a humans first knuckle. Do Not Declaw!!!


Feline anatomy with close up of paws and claws



Cats communicate with other cats and animals through Scent. A cat may mark their territory, announce the desire to mate, or send other messages by urinary spray and/or Scratching. Cats also Scratch to sharpen their claws and remove dead claw sheaths. The act of Scratching also strengthens the muscles in the cat’s limbs. Scratching is an innate behavior that Can Not be stopped. Inappropriate Scratching has led to far too many cats being relinquished, killed and/or declawed. Whether you have an only cat or a house full, providing kitty with appropriate surfaces for Scratching is a must. It’s just as important as litter boxes. Think of your cat’s need to Scratch the same way you would their need to eat, sleep and void.


 Raena scratches on the butterfly cat scratcher



There are plenty of Scratching options on the market, and we suggest having a few different ones available for your cat.  Some cats like to Scratch vertically and others horizontally. While others like to do both. A good Scratcher is sturdy, and large enough for kitty to stretch, dig in and pull. Cats also have preferences as to the texture of their Scratching surfaces. You may need to try out several before finding kitty’s favorite. Among the most popular Scratchers are Corrugated Cardboard and Sisal. Another popular option is Carpet. Regardless, it’s always good to have two or more options available at all times. Prices are as varied as styles, ranging anywhere from a few dollars to a few hundred. It’s not as important to have the most expensive Scratcher as it is to have one kitty will use. It’s also important to replace Scratchers as needed.


 Dezi scratching the cardboard race car



Most of the time kitty’s curiosity will cause him/her to start using the Scratcher immediately. If kitty is reluctant, you can always add a little catnip or silvervine to the Scratcher to entice kitty to use it. If kitty is Scratching inappropriately, place a Scratcher next to the area and redirect kitty. It’s always best to try to find a Scratcher that closely resembles the texture of the item kitty has chosen. Another way to introduce kitty to a Scratcher is to mimic their Scratching behavior on the new Scratcher with your own fingers while kitty watches. You may also gently put kitty’s paws on the Scratcher and use their paws to mimic Scratching.


 Dezi uses sisal scratcher




We suggest purchasing cheaper Scratchers in multiple textures until you find kitty’s preference. Once that’s been achieved, we suggest investing in several Scratchers to place in different areas of the home. Think of your kitty’s Scratcher as necessary furniture. Corrugated Cardboard is among the cheapest Scratchers and come in many different shapes and sizes. Scratchers have come a long way and many are made to fit in to your home’s décor. Sisal Scratchers are among the more expensive, but tend to be a favorite among kitties. Cat trees usually incorporate Sisal along with Carpet to offer kitty options. An important thing to remember when purchasing a cat tree or standing Scratcher, is that it will be sturdy enough for kitty to stretch out or up and pull back or down without it falling and/or moving. The Scratcher’s base should be wide enough to offer proper support and tall enough for adult kitty to fully stretch. A general rule of thumb is about 3 feet tall with a base of 16” – 18” X 16” – 18”. 


Raena with the Cat Scratcher from Chewy's Oct. review

Doesn’t this Scratcher look pawsum???



Just remember, kitty must Scratch, so it’s up to you to provide them with appropriate surfaces if you want to keep your furniture in tact. Never scold kitty for Scratching!!! Redirect, Redirect, Redirect any inappropriate Scratching, and Praise and Reward Kitty for all appropriate Scratching. Please consider a cat’s innate drives before adopting one. You can have nice things, a kitty and a happy home. With just a little Training, kitty will prefer his/her Scratcher to the furniture any day. If you can’t devote the time and energy into Training kitty, or you don’t think you can handle kitty’s Scratching, PLEASE rethink adopting kitty. Declawing is not a solution!!!


Lexi and Dezi lay on scratchers



Well, we’re gonna wrap it up for today. All this talk about Scratchin’ has me itchin’ to visit the Scratchin’ post. Again, ifin you’ve missed any of the posts in this series, you can ketch up by clickin’ the links below. And, leave any questions or post topics you might have in the comments section or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you.


Till the next time…………………………………….Be Blest!!!


Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses


Deztinee and RaenaBelle 


Service Cats

What to Look For      Training Foundations      Train Kitty To Massage

Smelling Disease      Do You Need One      Who Bears the Cost

Housing Laws & Exceptions      Accommodations & Common Sense

When the Handler Dies      Proper Training Methods Pt. 1 & Pt. 2

Easiest Task to Train      Getting Kitty Ready for an Outing

Discipline: Stop Countersurfing Kitty      Internal Disputes

Calling Emergency Help      Just What Is Kitty Capable of

Shad: Original Service Cat      Harness, Vest, Leash or Stroller

Dezi, the Wheelchair & Chest      Round and Round We Go

Tumble & Fall Response      Raena Calls for Help

The Rest of the Story     Raena & the Wheelchair Pt. 1 Pt. 2 Pt. 3 Pt. 4

When to Train      Explaining Rewards & Kitty’s Feelings

Stop Kitty’s Begging     Calling For Help Options Pt. 1

Medicating Kitty

Training the Pig Headed, Stallion Strong, Submissive Pup & Conniving Cat

Cats Love Training & Social Media Downfalls

Reintegrating the Scared or Bullied Cat      There’s No Bully Cat Breed

Going for a Walk When in a Wheelchair     Calming the Tiger Pt.1 Pt. 2 Pt. 3

Surviving A Remodel      Taming A Feral Cat

Designer Cats & Scent      DNA Doesn’t Change      Fighting or Posturing

Clicker Training & Operant Conditioning      Wheelchair Training

Basic Training Continues      Managing Without A Wheelchair

Are Spray Bottles Effective      Hands Are Not Toys

Does My Cat Need A Friend     Helping Your Bullied Shy Cat

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