CattyCorner: Why Cats Enjoy Scratching Stuff

Written by: Kelli Brinegar
For more than five years, Kelli Brinegar has been using her ability to write and her passion for research to tell the tale of what cats are thinking and why. She has provided care to more than 30 cats in her lifetime.Read more
| Published on July 28, 2020

Greetings, my pawsome human minions.

Your favorite crabby tabby of wisdom here, coming to you with a topic that deeply divides many homes. Scratching on things. Cat parents say no, but felines say yes! And, when a feline puts down a paw, then we know who wins.

But even in the great scratching furniture debate, the humans keep trying to win, always yelling about claws ripping into stuff. My parents and I finally get along on the matter, but it took a whole couch arm and two door frames before my mom finally filled the house with scratching posts and those neat little flats of cardboard you can stand on and tear into.


Though peace has been found in my home, the issue is still raging and right here in my own neighborhood.

Scratching: Destroying Peace and Furniture

I happened to be on my porch the other day, in the usual nap position when a fuss from the house next door woke me. The house’s windows were open and soon my calico friend living there leaped into one of the sills, her ears flicked back.

At her huff, I asked about the ruckus. She launched into a story about scratching the leg of the dining room table because she wanted to mark that spot as her own. There’s a dog in her house, one who thinks he can be anywhere he wants to be and that’s why she had to scratch the table, so the dog understood that was her space. He could take his slobbery naps somewhere else.


I listened as she complained about parents not understanding sometimes, and finally, her rage spending, she asked, “Forrest, do humans know why we scratch on things?”

Her question got me thinking.

No, humans might not know why we like to scratch. So, for the sake of harmony in the house, let’s review the reasons your cat likes to scratch things.

First, like my calico friend mentioned, we scratch things to show ownership. And beyond leaving claw marks to show we’ve been there, when cats scratch, glands in our paws release scent to tell other animals this spot is taken.

Plus, tearing into stuff is like a pawdicure. The action of scratching into a harder surface not only shears down nail length, but helps shed old claw layers. Like human nails, our claws get ragged too. Scratching helps keep them in shape, meaning you don’t have to give us trims with the dreaded clippers.


And, honestly, scratching feels oh-so-good! Sinking my nails into the door frame or a scratching post allows me to stretch my whole body just right. Hanging from my anchored nails allows me get my joints and muscles nice and loose. And as you cat parents know, cats love to stretch.

To keep the peace, check out all the wild options available for rope posts and floor scratchers. You can even find beds, hammocks, and tunnels made of corrugated cardboard. The purrfect solution awaits!


To My Fellow Felines, Tips to Get Yourself a Scratching Post

We try hard to help our parents understand us, but humans think differently than cats, so sometimes we have to take drastic measures to get out points across.


Here are some things you can do to show out and let your humans know you need a scratching post:

  • Find a door frame that is highly visible in your home. Sink your claws into the wood and drag. Repeat more than once with a vigorous zeal and enjoy the sound of splintering wood.
  • Wait until your human is sitting on the couch, perform a similar motion as mentioned above on the cushioned leg of the chair. Fabric gives fast, so get ready for turbo-scratch mode.
  • Or, using the couch, hook your claws into the fabric with all four paws and pull yourself along the edge. Feels great, looks dramatic. Two birds, one pounce.
  • Grab hold of the rug and go crazy in the carpet pile.

Humans call it ‘destructive scratching’, but I call it sending a message.

So, to the cat parents, if you see you furball behaving in my above prescribed methods, then your kitty is telling you she needs some sisal and corrugated cardboard in her life.


And when shopping for scratchers, pick up some more food and don’t forget to feed the cat.

Feature Image: @kingmaxioflaeppo/Instagram

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