Why Your Cat Sharpens its Claws
Cats are very reliant on their claws. For example, their claws play an important role in their balance, meaning that a cat without their claws will have a much harder time moving about from place to place. Similarly, their claws play an important role in their climbing, meaning that a cat without their claws will have a much harder time reaching high-up places. On top of this, it should be remembered that a cat’s claws are one of their most formidable protections that can be used against other cats, potential predators, and even humans that concern them for some reason. As such, it makes sense for cats to keep their claws in well-maintained condition, thus ensuring that they will remain something that these animals can count upon.
For starters, cats can be very territorial animals. This makes sense because an animal that has carved out a territory of their own has improved access to the resources of that territory, thus increasing their chances of survival as well as their chances of passing their genes on to the next generation. As a result, there are a lot of species out there that can exhibit territorial behavior under the right circumstances. Of course, carving out a territory is much easier when an animal has some way of making that fact known to other interested animals. Cats aren’t as celebrated as their canine counterparts for their sense of smell. However, cats have excellent noses, so much so that they can get a great deal more information than what humans can from the same scent. Thanks to this, it makes sense that cats would use their sense of smell as a way of marking out their territories. This is something that influences a lot of cat behaviors. To name an example, cats sometimes engage in bunting for the purpose of rubbing their scent into other things. This works well because they have multiple scent gland in their head. To name another example, cats are thought to sometimes scratch for much the same reason. Something that works well because they have more scent glands in their paws. Besides this, it is interesting to note that cats have been known to use scratch marks for communication purposes as well. Essentially, scratch marks can tell cats about the boundaries of territories as well as other kinds of useful information. House cats might not have a need for this kind of thing. However, house cats are driven by their instincts to an even greater extent than we are.
It Feels Nice
It can feel quite nice for humans to stretch from time to time. Amusingly, it is possible that cats feel the same. If so, the scratching of cats could be a self-reinforcing phenomenon. After all, living beings like feeling good, meaning that we have a higher chance of repeating things that make us feel good. As a result, if a cat finds it enjoyable to do some scratching, they could learn to do it again and again because of that positive reinforcement.
Of course, claw maintenance is the first thing that will come to mind for most people when it comes to this particular issue. Simply put, a cat’s claws will continue to grow throughout their lifetime. The claws will see some wear and tear because of their walking as well as their other physical activities. However, this won’t be enough for the claws to remain in good condition, particularly if the cat is either old or has some other issue that has caused them to become less physically active. Due to this, it makes sense for cats to scratch as a way of keeping their claws ready for use in much the same way that humans might use a nail file to keep our nails well-trimmed.
Should You Do Anything About This?
Sometimes, a cat’s scratching is harmless. Other times, well, suffice to say that more than one cat owner has lost either drapes, furniture, or some other piece of property because of a cat scratching where they shouldn’t be scratching. If this has happened to interested individuals, chances are good that they want to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
If so, they should know that they shouldn’t expect to be able to prevent their cat from scratching things altogether. As mentioned earlier, cats are driven by their instincts in this regard, meaning that going against those instincts could be challenging, counter-productive, and perhaps even outright damaging to the animal. Due to this, it is better for interested individuals to seek to redirect their cat’s scratching to something more suitable. For example, they could set up vertical posts made out of wood, cardboard, and other materials that they won’t mind being scratched, which they can either buy or even make on their own. Similarly, they might want to look into something that is horizontally-oriented instead. This is important because different cats have different preferences, meaning that some will want to go for a vertical scratching surface while others will want to go for a horizontal scratching surface. Whichever the case, interested individuals should keep a couple of things in mind. One, sturdiness is important because cats don’t want something that will give way before their efforts. Two, a lot of cats like to stretch out while scratching, which would explain why so many of them go for the drapes.
In any case, interested individuals should use a combination of encouragement and discouragement to get cats to switch to these more suitable surfaces. For example, putting toys as well as rubbing with catnip can both make a cat more inclined towards a particular location. Meanwhile, either removing unsuitable surfaces or covering up unsuitable surfaces should provide plenty of discouragement without going overboard. Be warned that negative reinforcement is not a good idea, not least because there is no guarantee that cats will associate said treatment with the undesirable behavior. Besides this, it might even be useful for interested individuals to keep their cat’s claws well-trimmed.