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Healthy Scratching: Understanding and Redirecting Your Cat’s Behavior

Understanding Cat Scratching: How to Keep Your Feline Friend Happy and Healthy

Cats are natural scratchers, and while this may be adorable sometimes, it can also ruin your furniture and cause a lot of frustration. However, scratching is an essential part of your cat’s life, and you cannot stop them from doing it.

It is necessary to understand why cats scratch, the different scratching styles they have, and how to get your cat to scratch right. In this article, we will explore all of these topics to help you keep your feline friend happy and healthy.

Reasons for Cat Scratching

Scratching is a natural behavior for cats, and it serves several purposes. One of the most important reasons why cats scratch is to keep their paw health in check.

Scratching helps to remove the dead outer layer of their claws, making way for new growth. Regular scratching is also necessary for nail health, ensuring that their nails stay sharp and healthy.

Cats are territorial animals, and they mark their territory through scratching. Scent glands in their paws release pheromones that mark the territory as theirs.

This behavior helps them establish a sense of ownership and security in their environment. Scratching also serves as a form of self-soothing for cats.

Just like humans, cats feel anxiety, and scratching helps them to calm down and relax. Additionally, scratching can be a sign of boredom.

Cats need mental and physical stimulation, and scratching provides both. Knowing Your Cat’s Scratching Style

Cats have different ways of scratching, and it is essential to understand your cat’s scratching style.

Some cats prefer to scratch vertically, while others prefer to scratch horizontally. Horizontal scratchers need a different type of scratcher than vertical scratchers.

Some cats prefer scratching posts, others prefer scratching mats, and some prefer cardboard scratchers.

Getting Your Cat to Scratch Right

While it is essential to provide your cat with appropriate scratching surfaces, it is equally important to train them to scratch correctly. Here are some tips:


Use catnip: Rub a little bit of catnip onto the scratching surface to lure your cat to it. 2.

Positive reinforcement: Reward your cat when they scratch on the appropriate surface. Offer treats or praise to encourage them to continue.

3. Nail trimming: Keep your cat’s nails trimmed to reduce the damage caused by scratching.

4. Providing toys: Giving your cat an outlet for playtime can also help reduce boredom and the need for excessive scratching.

Horizontal Cat Scratchers

Horizontal cat scratchers are a great option for cats who prefer horizontally scratching surfaces. Here are the different types of horizontal cat scratchers:


Flat scratchers: These are commonly made of sisal or carpet. Your cat can scratch, lie on, or play on it.

2. Cardboard cat scratchers: These are affordable and environmentally friendly.

They are also disposable and need to be replaced frequently. 3.

Mat scratchers: These are mats with sisal or carpet design. They offer a functional and aesthetic appeal.

Examples of

Horizontal Cat Scratchers

Here are two examples of horizontal cat scratchers:

1. Bergan Star Chaser Cat Scratcher: This scratcher has a ball track, and your cat can play while enjoying its scratch.

2. Big Mama’s Cat Scratcher: This scratcher has two sides, a sisal side, and a cardboard side.

It is versatile, and your cat can use it for play and scratching. In conclusion, it is essential to keep your pet’s happiness in mind.

Understanding why cats scratch, what their scratching styles are, and how to get them to scratch properly can help you provide them with an environment that meets their scratching needs. Horizontal scratchers are a great solution for cats who prefer a horizontally oriented scratching surface.

Use these techniques, and you will see a happy, healthy, and content cat.

3) Cat Scratching Posts

Cats are natural scratchers, and providing them with a scratching post or two can help redirect their scratching behavior to a more appropriate surface. However, not all scratching posts are created equal.

The type of cat scratching post you choose can make a significant difference in how much your cat uses it. There are two main types of cat scratching posts, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

In this section, we will explore the different types of cat scratching posts available, as well as some examples of each.

Types of Cat Scratching Posts

1. Upright Poles: These are the most common type of cat scratching post.

They are typically made of sisal or carpet wrapped around a pole that your cat can dig its claws into. They come in various heights and diameters, allowing you to choose the perfect size for your cat.

Large scratching posts can be used for multiple cats, while smaller ones are great for kittens. While upright poles are a great option, keep in mind that some cats prefer to scratch vertically, while others prefer a horizontal surface.

You may need to experiment with different types of scratching posts to find one that your cat enjoys using. 2.

Hanging Scratchers: These are cat scratchers that dangle from a doorknob or other elevated area. They are popular with cats who love to scratch things while standing on their hind legs.

Hanging scratchers are usually fabric-based and may come with attached toys or bells. While hanging scratchers are not suitable for all cats, they can be a great option for apartment dwellers that do not have much space for traditional scratching posts.

Examples of Cat Scratching Posts

1. Frisco 21-inch Scratching Post: This scratching post is ideal if you have limited space in your home.

Its design is simple, with a round base and a tall pole. The sisal-wrapped post provides a perfect surface for cats to dig their claws into.

2. Kong Naturals Incline Cat Scratcher: If your cat prefers a horizontal scratching surface, this scratcher could be the perfect choice.

The incline design allows your cat to stretch out its body while scratching. Plus, it’s made of eco-friendly materials, so it’s gentle on the environment.

3. Smartykat Scratch Up Hanging Cat Scratcher: This hanging scratcher is perfect for cats that love to scratch things while standing on their hind legs.

The scratcher features a sturdy nylon strap that can be attached to a doorknob or other elevated surface, and a corrugated cardboard surface that cats will love.

4) Combination Cat Scratchers

Sometimes, a simple scratching post may not be enough to keep your cat entertained. That’s where combination cat scratchers come in.

These scratchers offer different surfaces for your cat to scratch, as well as additional features like cozy hideaways or built-in toys. They are an excellent choice for cats that like more variety in their scratching surfaces.

Types of Combination Cat Scratchers

1. Three-Dimensional Cube Scratchers: These are multi-layered scratchers that provide cats with different scratching surfaces.

They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from cube-shaped to pyramid-shaped. Some models have attached toys or even a cozy hideaway where your cat can take a nap.

2. Bed-Type Scratchers: These scratchers double as a cozy bed for your cat.

They feature a comfortable sleeping surface on the top, while the sides or legs are wrapped in sisal or carpet for scratching. Bed-type scratchers can be a great solution for cats that love to scratch while taking a cat nap.

Examples of Combination Cat Scratchers

1. Petlinks Sea Ramp Cat Scratching Post: This unique scratcher is shaped like a ramp and provides multiple scratching surfaces for different types of scratching.

The ramp also doubles as a fun place for your cat to play, with a dangling toy attached to the top. 2.

Petfusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher: This scratcher is designed to be both a scratcher and a cozy spot for your cat to sleep. It’s made of recycled cardboard, and the unique curved shape will help keep your cat entertained for hours.

3. Scratch Lounge Original: This bed-type scratcher is made of a durable and eco-friendly cardboard material.

Its design is comfortable for your cat to rest on while providing them with an excellent surface to scratch. The Scratch Lounge also features reversible scratch pads for extended use.


Choosing the right cat scratching post for your feline friend is not always an easy task. However, by understanding your cat’s scratching behavior and preferences, you can pick a scratching post that they will love to use.

From upright poles to three-dimensional cube scratchers, there are many different types of scratching posts available that can cater to your cat’s needs. By providing your cat with a durable and comfortable scratching surface, you can help alleviate unwanted scratching behavior and keep your furniture safe.

5) Scratching Material Preferences

Cats are famously picky creatures, and this extends to their scratching preferences. Some cats prefer scratching materials that are soft and plush, while others prefer surfaces that are rough and nubby.

In this section, we will explore the different types of scratching materials available and provide examples of each.

Types of Scratching Materials

1. Carpet-like: These scratching materials are usually made of fabric or carpet-like material.

They have a soft, plush feel that some cats prefer to sink their claws into. These surfaces are ideal for cats that prefer vertical scratching.

2. Rough and Nubby: These surfaces are usually made of materials like corrugated cardboard or rough fabric.

They provide a rough texture that can help keep cats’ nails trim and healthy. These surfaces are ideal for cats that prefer horizontal scratching.

3. Sisal Rope: Sisal rope is a durable and eco-friendly material that is perfect for cats that like to scratch.

Sisal is abrasion-resistant and can withstand even the toughest of cat claws. Sisal rope scratching posts are a popular option for cats that prefer a vertical scratching surface.

Examples of Scratching Materials

1. Trixie Topi Cat Condo and Scratcher: This scratching post is made of a plush carpet-like material that some cats prefer to scratch on.

The Trixie Topi also features a built-in hideaway where your cat can curl up and take a nap. 2.

Four Paws Super Catnip Carpet and Sisal Scratching Post: This dual-material scratcher has a carpet-like surface on one side and sisal rope on the other. It offers your cat a variety of scratching surfaces, allowing them to scratch in different directions.

6) Redirecting Cat Scratching

While it is essential to provide your cat with appropriate scratching surfaces, it is equally important to redirect their scratching behavior when necessary. Cats may sometimes scratch in inappropriate places, like on furniture or curtains.

In this section, we will explore ways to encourage proper scratching behavior and prevent destructive scratching.

Encouraging Proper Scratching

1. Positive Reinforcement: Encourage your cat to use their scratching post by rewarding them with praise or treats when they use it.

This positive reinforcement can help your cat to associate the scratching post with positive experiences. 2.

Mimicking Scratching Motion: Cats are social creatures, and they often imitate the behavior of those around them. Try mimicking your cat’s scratching motion on their scratching post, and they may be more likely to use it.

3. Providing Treats: Placing treats or toys on or around the scratching post can motivate your cat to use it.

This can also help encourage your cat to play and interact with their new scratching post.

Preventing Destructive Scratching

1. Nail Trimming: Trimming your cat’s nails regularly can reduce the damage caused by scratching.

2. Providing Toys: Boredom is often a cause of destructive scratching behavior.

Providing your cat with toys to play with can help keep them mentally stimulated and reduce the need for excessive scratching. 3.

Daily Play and Love: Cats are social animals and need daily attention, playtime, and love from their owners. Spending quality time with your cat can reduce boredom and anxiety, and may help curb destructive scratching behavior.


Redirecting your cat’s scratching behavior can be challenging, but it is necessary to keep your furniture and other household items safe. Encouraging proper scratching behavior through positive reinforcement and providing appropriate surfaces can help prevent destructive behavior.

However, it is equally important to spend quality time with your cat, provide them with toys, and trim their nails regularly to prevent excessive scratching. By combining all of these techniques, you can help redirect your cat’s scratching behavior and provide them with a healthy and happy environment.

This article provided a comprehensive guide to understanding and redirecting cat scratching behavior. We explored the reasons behind scratching and the different scratching styles cats have.

We also discussed the different types of cat scratching posts, combination scratchers, and scratching materials available. Additionally, we provided tips on encouraging proper scratching behavior through positive reinforcement, providing treats, and mimicking the scratching motion.

Lastly, we explored ways to prevent destructive scratching behavior, like daily play and love, nail trimming, and providing toys. In conclusion, understanding your cat’s scratching behavior is crucial to providing a healthy and happy environment for them, and by following these tips, you can redirect their behavior and keep your furniture and household items safe.

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