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Why Do Cats Scratch Themselves?

by | January 7, 2020 | Pet Care

White cat scratches the scratching post

Is your cat scratching everything in sight? While this is normal behavior for your cat, it can be hard on your furniture and fabrics. Let’s talk about why cats scratch and what pet parents can do about it.

Why Do Cats Scratch?

Scratching behavior is common in cats. It brings them comfort and is one way they mark their territory. Here are a few of the many reasons why cats love to scratch:

  • Scratching helps cats keep their nails clean and trim
  • Cats scratch to express themselves and share their joy and other emotions
  • Scratching leaves a cat’s scent behind and marks their territory
  • Some kittens scratch to relieve stress or boredom. They might even be playing a cat scratching game
  • Your kitty may be relieving an itch
  • Cats enjoy the tactile sensation of scratching

How to Keep Cats From Scratching On Furniture

When your cat’s scratching behavior has begun to destroy your furniture, carpet, drapes, or other possessions, it’s time to take action. However, scratching should not be punished, instead guide your pet to learning appropriate ways to express this basic need.

Some pet parents choose to limit the cat’s access to furniture or other valuables to prevent problems. But a few behavior modification steps may be needed to fix your cat’s scratching problem. Try these steps first, before considering more drastic measures.

2 cats stay on the cat tower

How to stop cats from scratching on furniture:

  • Provide a cat scratching pad or a scratching post that’s tall enough for your pet to fully stretch and give them a full workout. Choose one with plenty of texture to provide sensory enjoyment and give your cat’s claws something to dig into. It should also be stable enough for climbing. A cat condo or a cat tree may be a good choice.
  • Use essential oils to surround off limit items and make them less appealing. Cats don’t like citrus or menthol scents, so spray them around furniture you need to protect. Use scents that your cat enjoys around the scratching post and other scratch-friendly areas.
  • Use textures your kitty doesn’t like to surround furniture or items that are off limits. Putting down plastic, foil, or a knobby vinyl runner, where your feline would normally stand to scratch, can be a good way to discourage them.
  • If these suggestions don’t help your cat scratching behavior, talk to your vet about whether your kitten may have an unrecognized problem. Your vet may have additional ideas on how to stop cats from scratching carpet, doors, and furniture.

If your cat’s scratching leaves you in need of some comic relief, try one of these Top 10 Cat Movies. A cat movie might help relieve the stress and remind you of how precious your own pet is. No time for a movie? Check out the Ultimate Field Guide to Caticorns to lighten your day.

Why is My Cat Scratching, but has No Fleas?

Cat scratching themselves outdoor

When we see our pet scratching, it’s almost automatic to think they have fleas. And it’s a good idea to check them to be sure there are no fleas or ticks. However, as we mentioned above, it’s normal for cats to scratch, even when they don’t  have fleas. If the behavior is excessive and the suggestions above don’t help, it might be wise to consult your vet about the behavior.

Why is My Cat Scratching their Ears?

Cat lies in a bike storage

Sometimes scratching is not normal behavior, and you should pay attention. If your cat is scratching its ears, it could be caused by several different conditions. When ear scratching is more than an occasional swipe, you should take your cat to the vet to be diagnosed and treated.

In the meantime, gently check your cat’s ears for irritation, bleeding, breaks in the skin, redness, or swelling.

A cat scratching its ears can be caused by many different conditions and may need a veterinarian’s care:

  • Dirt in the ear. While dirt may not be a problem immediately, it can lead to infections, blockages, and possibly hearing loss. Make a habit of checking your pet’s ears regularly and have them cleaned by a veterinarian as needed.
  • Mites, ticks, or fleas can cause obsessive scratching. If you find fleas, ticks, or mites, try using a natural flea and tick or mite repellent.
  • Parasites are best diagnosed by your vet. Over the counter treatments or a prescription may be required to get rid of a parasitic infection.
  • Allergies to food, nearby plants, or an environmental irritant can also cause your cat to itch. Your veterinarian can help you determine the source of the allergen and eliminate it from your pet’s environment.

While these are not the only sources of itchy ears in cats, they are the most common. Itchy ears require action to keep your pet healthy and comfortable. If you need to consult your vet regarding your cat’s itchy ears, cat insurance can help cover some or all of the fees associated with check-ups and exams.

Cat Scratching Eye

Cat scratching its eye

Another area of concern is when your feline is scratching their eye repeatedly. Your pet can damage the eye with its claws. Besides, when a cat scratches their eye, it’s a sign that something is wrong. If the behavior doesn’t stop within a minute or two, an eye inspection and possibly a quick trip to the vet is in order.

Help with Vet Bills

Blue eyed cat outdoor

While a vet visit can be costly and unexpected, it’s a necessary part of being a responsible pet parent. Your pet deserves the best care you can give and there are ways to reduce the cost. One way that caring pet owners help defray expensive vet bills is with pet insurance. A good cat insurance plan from Prudent Pet allows you the peace of mind and confidence to know your pet will always be taken care of, regardless of your current financial situation. Get a quote for pet insurance from Prudent Pet today or learn more about what is covered.

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Diane

Diane loves all animals and has parented dogs, cats, pigs, goats, chickens, sheep, and four children over the years. She is currently owned by Lucy, a senior Chow who always wants to stay close to her people. Lucy is a retired guide dog who is happiest when a child is nearby.