Scratching in all the right places (Part 1)
Photo by "Mel B.".
I was reading Alicia's post about how cats walk on their tiptoes. I thought I'd expand on that to discuss
how their sense of touch plays an important role in deciding where they choose to place those marvelous feet when it comes to scratching.
The desire to scratch on a surface is a natural behavior for cats.
It's how they condition their nails, and also how they stretch, mark objects, as well as being an emotional release. In an outdoor setting, cats typically choose trees, or wooden fence posts. For our indoor cats,
hopefully they've chosen their scratching posts. If your cat prefers the living room sofa or chair, it’s probably because of the way the texture feels to his paws, and also the height and sturdiness of the furniture.
When it comes to scratching, a cat has texture preferences. In general, he prefers a rough-textured surface so he can get a good grip with his nails. Once embedded, he pulls his nails back out and the
roughness of the material helps him discard the outer sheath of the nail. This is how the nail stays healthy. If you look at where your cat is currently scratching, you might see some of these crescent-shaped
The reason a cat may choose the furniture for scratching is because the scratching post may not have the right feel against his paws. Compare it to a nail file. If you wanted to file your nails you
wouldn't use a dull one. If the scratching post in your home is carpet covered, it may be the cat equivalent of a dull nail file. The softer and fluffier the post, the less appealing it'll be as a scratching
Sisal provides a great texture for a scratching post. It feels rough against your cat's paws and he'll be able to do an efficient job at keeping his nails in good condition. You can find sisal posts in
many pet supply stores as well as online. You can also convert your current post by tightly wrapping it with rope.
By the way, a cat's sense of smell plays a role in scratching as well. When your cat
presses his paws against the scratching post, he releases pheromones (scent chemicals) from his paw pads. This is a way of leaving a scent mark. This scent mark provides information about the cat and let's
other cats in the area know about him.
Stay tuned to my next blog for tips on how to encourage your cat to scratch his post.
What type of texture does your cat prefer for scratching?
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