Why does my cat scratch and how can I stop it?

If your furniture is in shreds and your wooden floor has a new pattern etched into it, you’re probably feeling exasperated with your cats need to stretch out and drag their claws across almost every surface!

This behaviour, however frustrating, is a natural and instinctive behaviour that makes a cat a cat. And trying to train them not to do something instinctive won’t end well.

But why do they do it? And how can we redirect it to a less impacting area?
(And keep your furniture in one piece!)

Reasons a cat scratches
cat with his head through the bannisters

• To condition their claws – claws shed layers just as our nails grow. Think of your couch as their nail file, useful for removing excess nail, but not so useful for your antique sofa.

• For exercise and stretching – your cat’s back and shoulder muscles can only be fully stretched when reaching right out in front, where their claws are then in contact with the floor. And well, we all know how that ends…

• It relieves stress – it’s common for cats to scratch to help release some built up emotions!

• As a territorial marker – a cat will also use scratching to rub their scent around the house as the pads on their paws have scent glands which allow them to mark their territory. You might find that scratching occurs on chair arms closest to a doorway, this is strategic to increase their feeling of security.

Alternatives to scratching

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Now let’s look at a few ways you can try to redirect your cats’ scratching in a positive way that also saves your furniture and flooring!

• A tall scratching post – for full stretches, this is an appropriate alternative to your furniture and will allow your cat to continue its natural behaviour. If you have more than one cat, you’ll actually need more than one scratching post. Read more considerations when it comes to multi-cat homes here.

• Catnip – try sprinkling the surfaces you want them to scratch with catnip! Then try sprinkling their new scratching post with catnip too to attract them towards it and encourage them to use their paws to rub their scent on it.

• Provide them with exercise – try playing with your cat more regularly and provide toys which appeal to their hunting instincts (such as our FroliCat® POUNCE™) to distract their behaviour from scratching.

• Change their focus – try making the place they’ve been scratching unattractive by positioning physical or scent related deterrents near the area that has been scratched. Citrus or menthol smells are repellent to cats so soak cotton balls and place them in areas you want left alone.

• Trim your cat’s claws – keep an eye on your cat’s claws! Left untrimmed they can cause some ailments, so trimming them is a good way of reducing scratching. For more information about cutting your cat’s claws read ‘Trimming a cat’s claws’.

For more toys that will engage your cat, check out our FroliCat® range of cat toys.

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5 Common Dog Behaviours

All dogs are different. They like different games, different smells, and interact differently with people and other animals.

But, there are certain behaviours which are commonly present in the species, and whether they are wanted or unwanted is a different matter! Behaviours which are completely natural to dogs can sometimes be undesirable to their owners.

We’ve identified 5 of the most commonly presented behaviours and look into ways to discourage the unwanted…

Black and tan barking dachshund in snow

1. Barking. Lots of barking.

Barking is the most common, and most complained about dog behaviour. Though it’s their way of communicating with you, it can sometimes develop into a problem.

There are five types of barks which can be categorised into:
• Alert barking – letting you know he has seen or heard something
• Defensive barking – make something he is afraid of or doesn’t like go away
• Attention barking – wanting attention
• Frustration barking – doesn’t understand what’s going on
• Boredom barking – amusing himself

To curb barking when it becomes excessive, it is important to stay calm and firm to discourage further barking.

For more information, read ‘Why dogs bark and what to do when barking becomes a problem’.

Tasty!

2. Chewing (the destructive kind!)

Chewing is important for puppies during the teething process, and becomes more frequent in adults when they are bored.

Chewing can be a destructive habit if your dog is chewing the wrong thing, but there are ways you can redirect this behaviour:

  • Manage the environment – remove anything chewable from their reach!
  • Interrupt the behaviour – replace the inappropriate item with a tasty chew toy
  • Exercise – this produces endorphins which has a calming effect and helps to release pent-up energy

Our Busy Buddy® dog toys include a Treat Meter™ to encourage engaging and rewarding play.

Dog Digging At The Beach

3. Digging. Just Digging.

Some breeds of dogs have more energy and more of a penchant for digging than others. It’s a form of exercise and a distraction from boredom, but it can sometimes be disruptive and unwanted.

Ideally, your dog will have a space to dig and use their energy up somewhere in the garden or on a walk, so that there is an appropriate redirection for their digging if they are currently doing it somewhere unwanted.

The best way to avoid digging as a reoccurring issue is to ensure there has been sufficient exercise to tire out your pup.

Read more about ‘Why dogs love digging and how to manage it’

Reward from the veterinarian

4. Biting (wait, there’s more…)

Biting is one of the most basic of canine behaviours, and begins from a very early age.

But did you know there is more than one type of bite? They can be categorised as:

  • Possessive biting
  • Fearful biting
  • Painful biting
  • Maternal instincts
  • Prey drive

Discouragement of play biting from the beginning will lead to less-frequent adult biting behaviours. Do this through creating a strong human-animal bond by exercising and playing with your dog, training them to respect and establish your role as the rule setter and enforcer.

Pug laying on laundromat floor

5. Separation Anxiety. They just miss you!

It can be common that when an owner leaves the house or room that a dog can become stressed and present behaviours such as:

  • Barking
  • Whining
  • Destroying items
  • Scratching at walls and floors
  • Attempting to escape from the crate

To deter these signs of separation anxiety, praise good behaviour to encourage them to make a habit out of it, and give a consistent response to the behaviours so that your dog is confident in you as the Pack Leader.

If there is a deeper root to the issue, such as panic due to previous experiences, we suggest speaking to your vet or seeking help from a professional.

If you have any concerns or tips for how to deal with your dog’s behaviour, let us know in the comments.

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Filed under Dogs

Hydration Month in Australia [Infographic]

pet hydration infographic

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Filed under General, Pet Health