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Why Scratching is Vital for Your Cat’s Health and Happiness

Scratching is a normal and necessary behavior for the feline species. Cat people anticipate that their cats will mark, stretch, and claw. It is a part of cat wellbeing. It serves a certain purpose for cats that we may not realize because we humans just don’t work like that….or do we?

Scratching is great for cats to be happy and healthy

We see our cats extend their claws and leisurely stretch back or up. It is like cat yoga in a way. It just feels good. The same muscles that are used for the scratch-stretch are the ones that cats need to climb and run. Your cat knows that her body should be honed and equipped for anything. Scratch-stretching keeps the muscles from cramping and becoming stiff or painful. Scratching is a good way for a cat to loosen up his muscles after sleep, too. Cats love scratching options that they can grip slightly with their claws to help smooth rough edges and improve circulation to their toes and nail beds and also gain some resistance when they stretch, just like resistance bands for us.

Scratch marks are symbols in the cat world

Do you talk with your hands? This phrase is a little different when it comes to cats. When we say that someone “talks with their hands,” we mean that they gesture to articulate their meaning, but cats use their claws to communicate in a different way. They can leave a visual calling card for other cats with the marks left when they scratch, especially on a vertical surface. Since they can’t leave sticky notes for others to express their meaning, they work with what they’ve got and leave scratch marks along their boundaries. Cats might choose corners or couches or highly visible zones at cat height- anywhere that would be immediately obvious to an interloper.

The Importance of Scratching

Cats leave (invisible) messages when they scratch

Pheromones are actually chemicals that carry messages. They are not technically odors since they are perceived by another organ than the nose. Cats can produce a pheromone between their toes (interdigital semiochemical) that releases when they claw. This chemical leaves invisible messages for other cats. Humans cannot perceive these messages at all. In fact, not even dogs can. Pheromones seem to be species specific. So they are notes left that only cats can read and they are also useful to your own cat as she reminds herself of her “safe zones”.

Maybe our cats are not so different from us after all. Many people enjoy yoga and stretching. We all leave notes for family members and friends and even ourselves as reminders of important things. It only takes a little extra thought to decode your cat and when you do, it is like seeing a whole new world-through a cat’s eyes!

These cat scratchers will help your kitty express herself

The Wild Rose Cat Scratcher and Floral Teal Cat Scratcher available in the iHeartCats store are perfect, portable scratching toys for your feline family member. Each purchase provides a toy to a shelter cat through Project Play because playful pets are more likely to get adopted!

Wild Rose Cat Scratcher, available at the iHeartCats store

 

Floral Teal Cat Scratcher, available at the iHeartCats store

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Written by Dr. Kathryn Primm

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