If there is one behavior that consistently exists in cats, it is the love of scratching. Whether they are brand new kittens testing out their strength, adult cats staying fit and agile, or senior cats stretching sore backs after hours of napping, all felines love to scratch.  This is not an arbitrary habit, but one that has several purposes that make scratching not only an entertaining and enjoyable pastime, but also a necessary practice for every feline. Here are some of the reasons below:

Territorial markings: Cats love scratching because it leaves their mark on surfaces they frequent as a way of letting other animals know about their territory and their presence.  They also emit pheromones through glands in their paws, which are released by scratching, so the marks are both visual and aromatic.

Stress relief:  Being inside all day can make cats tense, especially if they are a high-energy breed, or they have access to windows where they can watch birds fly and squirrels run around nearby.  Having a designated place to scratch or climb is a great way to direct a feline’s pent-up energy into a constructive behavior, instead of leaving the back of your brand new leather couch at their mercy.

Stretching: When cat claws catch on carpet or roped scratching poles,  it pulls on the claws, elongating the spine and stretching it into place. Since cats spend hours in stagnant sleep, and then go leading, twisting, jumping and fitting into small spaces during their wakeful hours, realigning the spine is essential for their health.

Keep claws intact: The action of repetitive pulling and rubbing claws against cardboard or word surfaces helps keep a cat’s claws strong and in shape. If you are concerned about sharpening your cats claws in a way that could be dangerous,  then choose cat scratching surfaces/toys that are flat sanding boards which could help blunt the pointy tips.

Good Scratching Surfaces For Cats

Cat Furniture & Trees: Cat furniture is a fantastic option for pet owners simply because they are designed to last fierce clawing and scratching.  They also provide different platforms for cats to climb on, perch or nap in, and shimmy up. However, some people consider these an eyesore juxtaposed with more aesthetically pleasing human furniture, especially the longer that have been used.

Cat Carpets: Instead of having a towering cat tree, or furniture piece in a corner of the living room, some pet owners opt for small square scratch rugs where kitties can rip, tear, stretch and scratch to their heart’s content. These can lay flat in the bathroom or laundry room, conveniently tucked away from sight, while still being accessible for feline finger tips.

Alternative Options:  Some pet care companies have designed cat toys to suit a feline’s need to scratch and stretch their claws, while visually mimicking some human object. One of the most unique options are cardboard “turn tables” that cats can scratch to shreds while looking like a styling DJ at a party.  These make great conversation starters for visitors, and are a great alternative to the standard cat furniture design.