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Scientists learn how to stop cats from scratching the furniture

Are your prized pieces of furniture getting an unwanted feline manicure? The headache of cats treating our plush couches and ornate rugs as their personal claw-sharpening and scratching stations is a shared experience among cat owners worldwide.

But what if you could redirect your kitty’s urge to scratch from your furniture to more suitable outlets?

Cats scratching the surface

Dr. Yasemin Salgirli Demirbas, a veterinary researcher from Ankara University, along with a team of international experts, decided to take a closer look our feline friends’ scratching habits.

Their findings shed light on a question plaguing cat owners for ages: why do cats scratch furniture and how can we redirect this behavior?

Factors behind cats scratching behavior

Through a comprehensive survey involving more than 1200 cat owners in France, the research team uncovered some surprising factors that influence your feline’s scratching behavior.

Demirbas and her team discovered a clear link between your cat’s environment, personality traits, and increased scratching behavior.

“Here we show that certain factors – such as the presence of children at home, personality traits of cats, and their activity levels – significantly impact the extent of scratching behavior,” said Demi̇rbas.

“Our findings can help caregivers manage and redirect scratching to appropriate materials, which could help foster a more harmonious living environment for both cats and their caregivers.”

Stress leads to unwanted cat scratching

The authors found that stress serves as a key driver of unwanted scratching in cats. When cats engage in prolonged play sessions, they may experience elevated stress levels due to continuous stimulation and excitement.

This heightened stress can manifest in excessive scratching behavior. It turns out playfulness, while generally beneficial, can have a flip side, leading to a flurry of feline scratches on your beloved furnishings.

“We see a clear link between certain environmental and behavioral factors and increased scratching behavior in cats,” Salgirli Demirbas explained.

“Specifically, the presence of children in the home as well as high levels of play and nocturnal activity significantly contribute to increased scratching. Cats described as aggressive or disruptive also exhibited higher levels of scratching.”

Understanding this can help cat owners better manage their pets’ playtime and stress levels to protect their furniture.

Placing scratch posts and pheromones

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. The researchers suggest some practical changes that can significantly alter where and why your cat scratches.

Creating an engaging and stimulating environment is crucial for feline well-being and can play a significant role in managing scratching behavior.

For starters, place scratch posts in areas frequently visited by your cat. Position them near your cat’s favorite lounging spot.

Make sure the scratch posts are sturdy and tall enough for your cat to fully stretch out. This will make the posts more appealing to your cat.

Using specific feline pheromones can create a calming environment. These pheromones can deter your furry friend from clawing at your couch.

Additionally, regularly trimming your cat’s nails can help. Providing a variety of textures for scratching can further reduce unwanted scratching behaviors.

“Understanding the underlying emotional motivations of scratching behavior, such as frustration, which seem to be linked to personality traits and environmental factors, allows caregivers to address these issues directly,” said Demirbas.

Hunting games

The key to a happier, scratch-free household lies in mimicking successful hunting scenarios through several short play sessions.

These moments not only keep your cat’s interest piqued but also help curb stress. Plus, they serve to enhance the bond between you and your feline buddy.

Additionally, redirecting your cat’s attention immediately when they scratch inappropriately can teach them the boundaries of acceptable behavior.

Training not only helps in managing scratching habits but also strengthens the bond between you and your cat, promoting a harmonious living environment.

Though the study relied on owner-reported data, it still provides valuable insights. It helps in understanding feline scratching behavior better. This knowledge paves the way for more effective management strategies in the future.

So, here’s to a future of peaceful cohabitation, with happier cats and scratch-free sofas.

The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.


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