Cats and Their Unyielding Urge to Scratch

So, your feline friend has turned your favorite couch into their personal scratching post, huh? Before you jump to conclusions about this being ‘bad behavior,’ let’s dig into why cats actually need to scratch.

The Innate Behavior

Instinctual or Learned?

You’ll be interested to know that scratching is not something cats learn; rather, it’s an instinctual behavior. Like how humans stretch when they wake up, cats have a natural urge to scratch.

Benefits of Scratching

Physical Advantages

Scratching helps cats remove the outer layer of their claws, keeping them sharp and ready for action. It also serves as a great form of exercise.

Mental Well-being

Beyond the physical advantages, scratching also provides cats with a sense of mental relief and satisfaction. Think of it as their form of stress-busting!

Common Myths

Is Scratching Destructive?

The idea that cats scratch to be destructive is a common myth. In reality, they’re simply following their natural instincts.

Can Cats Be Trained Not to Scratch?

Another misconception is that cats can be trained not to scratch at all. While you can guide them to scratch designated areas, completely suppressing this instinct is not advisable.

Surfaces and Preferences

Why Do Cats Choose Certain Surfaces?

Cats are choosy and will often select surfaces that offer the right amount of resistance and texture. This explains the allure of your lovely leather sofa!

The Role of Territory

Marking Their Space

Cats also scratch to mark their territory. Their paws have scent glands that release pheromones, making each scratch a territorial marker.

Alternatives and Solutions

Scratching Posts

Investing in scratching posts that mimic the texture of their favorite surfaces can redirect their scratching tendencies.

Training Techniques

Positive reinforcement can guide your cat towards the scratching post and away from your furniture.

What Not to Do

The Controversy of Declawing

Declawing is not a humane solution to scratching issues and can lead to numerous health and behavioral problems for your cat.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is scratching a bad habit in cats?
    • No, it’s a natural and instinctual behavior.
  2. Can I train my cat not to scratch?
    • You can guide them towards scratching designated areas, but suppressing the instinct is inadvisable.
  3. Why does my cat prefer to scratch my couch?
    • It could be due to the texture and resistance the couch provides.
  4. Is declawing a cat the solution?
    • No, declawing is inhumane and can cause health and behavioral issues.
  5. Do scratching posts really work?
    • Yes, especially if they mimic the texture of the surfaces your cat prefers to scratch.


So, is it true that cats need to scratch? Absolutely. It’s not a destructive behavior but a natural, beneficial activity that serves both physical and emotional purposes for your cat. Rather than scolding them, understanding their needs and redirecting their scratching can make both of you happier.

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