Porky and Buddy Pet Health – Why Do Cats Scratch Stuff?

Dear Porky and Buddy,
I have a question about my cat, Thumper.  Why does he scratch wallpaper and walls?  What can I do to make him stop?  I’d like to re-wallpaper our kitchen, and fix the walls where he has dug the plaster, but am hesitant to do so without having a plan on how to keep him from doing it again.  I would never have him declawed, but if you could see my walls??

Dear John,
We are not home decorators.  If we could see your walls, we would think, “Wow those are some great scratches!  It looks like Thumper is having fun!”

Cats scratch for a couple of reasons. One is for grooming: Their nails shed the outer sheath and by scratching dense or textured surfaces, they can more easily get rid of this outer sheath. Another reason for clawing is to deposit a scent marker from the glands on her paw pads. It’s a way for Thumper mark his territory and it also gives a visible marker of his presence in your home.  It could also just be a way of getting your attention, and it probably works to do just that.

How to keep Thumper from scratching:

Cats do not like getting their claws stuck.  You could try putting double sided tape over the spots that he has been clawing and then provide a very visible scratching post near by. It doesn’t have to be an expensive, as long as it is sturdy. A piece of wood or any substance that will not get their claws stuck is the trick.

As unattractive as it is to have a piece of 2 by 4 in your kitchen, it may be the ticket to rerouting Thumper’s clawing to something acceptable.  And the more great scratching surfaces around your home, especially near the walls that he has been scratching, the better.

When you actually see Thumper scratching in the wrong place, don’t yell at him or try to punish him.

Cats, being our rulers, do not take well to being punished by their subjects.  Instead, be ready to deflect that behavior by redirecting him to a scratching post that is acceptable.

Just gently move him to the post, pick his paw up, and show him how the new surface feels. He may not take to it right away, but if he hates the tape, eventually he will try something new.

And try to spend time playing with Thumper when  he is not intent on scratching so that he gets a lot of attention that doesn’t seem like a reward for scratching.  It’s OK for subjects to manipulate their rulers.

Are you feeling the need for more structure in your life?  Adopt a new ruler from the Oswego County Humane Society!  You can find all of the potential rulers for adoption at www.oswegohumane.org.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter assistance, information and referral, adoption assistance to pet owners, humane education programs, foster care and adoption  for pets in urgent need, assistance with lost and found pets.

Our administrative offices and spay/neuter clinic are located at 265 W. First St., Oswego, NY.

Check our web site at www.oswegohumane.org or call (315) 207-1070 for more information or to be placed on our mailing list for our newsletter.