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Why Do Cats Scratch the Furniture?

Does your pet have cat scratch fever? No, not the disease; the desire to claw only the finest furniture, wallpaper, and draperies. Well, you are not alone. Scratching is an innate feline behavior, and it is something that all cat owners must learn to deal with.

Cats scratch for several reasons. First, scratching keeps their claws in shape. You schedule a weekly manicure; your cat schedules a scratching session with the sofa. Not only does scratching sharpen the claws and remove the old outer husk of the nail, it just feels good. Think how great it feels when the manicurist massages your hands and arms. Your cat probably gets a similar pleasurable feeling from scratching.

Scratching also serves as a territorial marker. Cats may scratch in preferred sleeping spots or any other place where they spend a lot of time. Doorways and windowsills often get scratched, especially when an indoor cat spots an intruder outdoors. He scratches in a vain attempt to let the other cat know that this is his territory. Scent is another aspect of territorial scratching. The sebaceous glands in cat's paws leave an odor at the scratched area-another way the cat can stake his claim.

To make sure your cat scratches only in approved areas, think on his level. Cats like to scratch sturdy, vertical objects such as trees. That's why they often choose a chair or sofa as a substitute. Cats like to stretch tall when they claw. Provide your cat with a scratching post out to his full length, tail included. Cats like to scratch things that are rough. Choose or make a post that is covered in material such as sisal or burlap. Avoid carpet because the cat won't be able to tell the difference between the carpet on the floor and the carpet on the post. Or attach the carpet to the post so that only the rough underside is showing. Some cats like scratching bare wood or logs covered with bark. Provide them with their own small "tree" in the house-a stable log places so that cat can stand on it and scratch.

Put the scratching post in a convenient area. If you hide it, your cat may not be attracted to it. A corner of the living room or bedroom is a good spot. And beware of moving the post. Cats may protest if you change what they consider the natural order of things.

Why Do Dogs Do That? by Kim Thornton, BowTie Press. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. Check out their web site at www.catchannel.com

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