Cat lovers know that cats love to scratch and it is a normal behavior for them. In fact, scratching is inevitable for cats because it serves them several purposes including the conditioning of their claws because through scratching, they try to remove the frayed and dead layer of their claws to expose sharper ones. Cats also scratch as a form of exercise because during scratching, they are able to stretch their back and shoulder muscles as well as flex their legs, feet, and claws.
Aside from these reasons related to their physical needs, cats also scratch in order to mark their territories. For them, leaving scratch marks on anything creates a visual sign that should be seen by other animals and cats alike. The scratches serve as markers or warning that they were in that area or that is where they reside so other animals should not attempt to enter.
Cats can also feel stressed at times and scratching can be a stress-relieving activity for them because they can somehow release their emotions through scratching. It is just like when some people are stressed, they go to the gym, go boxing, or do some other physical activities for emotional release and then they feel better afterwards. The same applies to cats. Boxing is to humans as scratching is to cats.
So, the next time that you see your cat scratch, do not shoo it or even punish it for doing what it needs to do. If you are worried about your cat damaging your dearly loved furniture and other belongings, there are ways on how you can save them without having to sacrifice your cat. One effective way is to provide a scratching post. A scratching post is like a cat tree. It is made from wood and covered with a rough material like a sisal rope, sisal mesh fabric, cedar, or other materials that cats can find easy to scratch. There are some who use carpet but it can give mixed signals to your cat and it may think that it is okay to scratch on other carpets in the house so as much as possible, steer away from using carpets on scratching posts.
Cats can use a scratching post for horizontal or vertical scratching, depending on whether it will be mounted on a wall or stand-alone. Choose a type which is suitable for your home and the space that you have available. You should be able to train your cat to use the post for its scratching needs by rubbing a catnip on the post and showing your cat that it should be used for scratching by showing how it can be used. Use your fingernails to scratch on the post to entice your cat to do the same. Be patient though, your cat may not get into it on the first attempt but do not give up. Be consistent in showing the scratching post to your cat until it shows interest. Once your cat uses the post, remember to use positive reinforcement by giving your praises. You will be surprised that it will actually work.