Did you know that one of the biggest issues that bother cat owners is the fact that cat's scratch and their scratching can be destructive? If you are "owned by a cat" (aren't we all! - they own us don't they!) or are planning to get one remember that scratching is a natural instinct. For a cat to not scratch would be abnormal behavior and something you should actual seek medical attention.
Perhaps if you understand the reasons why cats scratch you will recognize how to change the cat's environment so they will have the appropriate scratching tools and limit or prevent destruction of your furniture and expensive items in your home.
Here are a few reasons why cats scratch:
1. Most animals mark their territory and cats are no different. A cat has scent glands on their paws. Scratching an area says, "Stay away, this is mine."
2. As a cat's claw grows the outer sheath needs to detach. Scratching helps the cat to maintain their nails.
3. Scratching can be a defensive or aggressive behavior. Many times it is just to assist the cat with balance. A good example is when a cat jumps onto your lap. Sometimes they need their claws to gain balance.
The best scratching areas come on cat trees and cat condos. Cat scratchers wrapped around a post or cardboard scratchers on an incline are also favorites with many cats and kittens. Many of the highest quality cat condos have a variety of scratching surfaces. You'll find that if you train your cat to use these scratching posts and tools they will stop attacking your furniture and everyone will be happier! Just try to think like a cat: the more areas that are for them to work / exercise through the less chance they have of ruining your new sofa!
A house cat can scratch because they know this is a way to get their owners's attention. They may be saying that they need food, water, love or playtime. Focus on the positive and ignore the negative. Don't get angry at them for scratching but instead redirect them to some other task. Remember that scratching is part of a cat's survival instinct. Think like a cat and give your companion appropriate things to scratch. Positive reinforcement will easily teach your cat that their cat condo is a better place to scratch than your couch!
Your vet may also be a good resource for you or your local pet store. Let them know the challenges you are facing and they will be able to suggest appropriate behavior modification and cat "furniture" that will encourage your kitty to play nicely at home and not attack your belongings. I personally have not tried any of the "keep away" sprays but I do know that they make them. You should check with your vet first to be sure it is safe and also be sure that your cat doesn't have any alergic reactions. The sprays are not as expensive as cat tools and should be used together with cat scratching posts so your cat can learn where and where not to scratch.
Have fun with your cat and with some training and proper coaching you'll find that your cat will scratch where you direct them!