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Cats And Scratching

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As most cat owners are aware, the typical mild mannered kitty can do considerable damage to a house with his claws.

Scratching a large, upright structure is innate behavior - scratching a tree served the purpose for the wild ancestor of cats; cats scratching furniture is the equivalent for the more urbanized feline.

While declawing may be a justifiable means of dealing with destructive scratching where the cat's future in the home is threatened, many cat owners want to consider this option only as a last resort. By having some understanding of the behavioral attraction of cats to certain scratching areas, one may prevent, or even resolve cat furniture scratching problems.

A scratched item such as an indoor tree, a piece of furniture or a scratching post becomes a personal territorial marker of the cat, because the scratched appearance is readily visible to other cats who might be in the vicinity.

In the process of scratching, cats also rub secretions from glands in the feet onto the scratched object, giving it a distinct smell that can probably be recognized by other cats. These "smell" marks dissipate with time, and cats must regularly renew the biochemical marks.

Scratching also has a function of conditioning the claws. Claws are not sharpened as a knife would be sharpener, but are "conditioned" - frayed and worn outer claws are removed to expose new, sharp claws.

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Scratching Is Normal

The first step in resolving or preventing a furniture scratching problem is to recognize that scratching is normal, and cats need an acceptable area to scratch.

Three principles should be kept in mind: 1) Once a cat starts scratching an object she tends to return to it; 2) prominent objects - which make the best territorial markers - are favored, and 3) the texture of a potential scratching area influences whether it is used or not.

If you notice that a cat has begun scratching a piece of furniture, the furniture should be covered immediately to prevent further scratching, and it should be kept covered until the cat is regularly scratching an acceptable object.

cat_scratching_post1.jpgWhen encouraging a cat to use a scratching post, the post should first be placed in a prominent area; after it is being used it can be moved gradually to the side of the room, because cats tend to use the same object repeatedly.

The importance of texture is illustrated by the popular, commercially available corrugated cardboard scratching boards that attract cats even when the boards are placed in a horizontal position. Most commercial scratching posts are covered with carpet, which although durable, does not allow the cat to drag her claws easily downward.

In order to keep your cat's scratching activities directed to the acceptable scratching object, do not replace a heavily used object as soon as it gets scruffy, thinking the cat wants a new one - its heavy use is your sign the cat loves the scratching post just the way it is.

For further questions about your cat's scratching behavior, feel free to contact our veterinarian or friendly staff members at our animal hospital.


Virginia Beach Veterinarian | Birdneck Animal Hospital
508 North Birdneck Rd Suite C
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
Phone: (757) 355-5694

Monday:

8:30 am-8:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Thursday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Friday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Saturday:

8:45 am-2:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

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  • "Words can not begin to express our gratitude for the care you had given Hunter over the years. When his time came, he watched for you to come through the door and his tail showed his affection towards you. That was most comforting having you there. Thank you.""
    ~R.H
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Maggie over the years. Y'all are the best and Dr. Johnson, you are the best vet in the world! God bless you all.""
    ~ J.D.
  • ""Your care for my beloved Mattie these last 10n years made her life, and mine much better….God bless each of you for all you did for us and I'm sure for all your other two and four legged patients.""
    ~E.D.
  • ""Thank you for saving my life." ~T.C."
    ~T.C.
  • ""I can not express how grateful I am for you and your staff… I appreciate everything you did in Beckham's treatment. He was so lucky to have such a wonderful doctor on his side. Thank you for all you do for the benefit of all our beloved pets.""
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  • ""Thank you for the great care you took of Taco and the rest of our family. He is doing great now! He is enjoying running and playing with all four legs again.""
    ~W.C
  • ""People who avail themselves of your services at the clinic certainly are blessed to have such a caring staff....bless you and your devoted staff.""
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  • ""A sincere thank you for taking such good care of Dulce. We are so thrilled that she is back to her normal self. You gave her the support and care she needed in her darkest hours and kept us confident in her recovery.""
  • ""Just to say how much we appreciate all of you. You all are wonderful people. We feel blessed to have our beloved furry children in your care when they need it. Your professional knowledge and your acts of kindness have a beautiful act all it's own. You are a great vet, compassionate and everything good all in one. You are in our daily prayers.""
    ~T.F.
  • ""Thank you and all of your staff for the excellent care you gave to my wonderful Abbey, who was so much a part of the family. Thank you for all the advice and support you gave to me these last few months. I don't know how I would have gotten through this without your constant support. I will, and I have highly recommended you to family and friends, as I feel you are the best!""
    ~P.B.
  • ""Thank you for taking care of my kitty, Slingshot. He is feeling better and better. My Paw-Paw said that you took extra special care of him and I really appreciate it. So, thank you again for taking care of my cat.""
    ~T.B. (age 6)
  • ""Dr. Johnson, I don't know why you decided to move here from your home in New Jersey, but I absolutely believe it was so you could help me and Mickey. I know coming to someone's home is not what a typical veterinarian would do, but you are obviously an extraordinary man in a world filled with ordinary men….On top of that, your sensitive and wonderful handwritten note arrived and touched my heart…You are one of those quiet, unheralded champions who make life easier for everyone you touch.""
    ~C.W.
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Lola when she had her reaction, and your office was already closed. I know you took time away from yourself and your family and I really appreciate it.""
    ~R.M.
  • ""Thank you for giving me more time with my best friend. We are all so grateful.""
    ~A.M.
  • ""Thank you for all of your support for Maxine during her illness. All was very much appreciated and will always be remembered. I have related to all my friends of what a great doctor and staff at Birdneck Animal Hospital.""
    ~O.B.
  • ""Thank you for taking such good care of me over the last 4 years. I am doing well and both legs and feet feel great. You sis an awesome job on me Dr. Johnson, and I'm gonna have a great year this year and I hope to see you only for my check up. You guys are the best!""
    ~Budkus
  • "We can't thank you enough for the wonderful and loving care you gave to"Budkus" while he was in your care. He was so little and so sick and we were so scared for him. Each and every one of the staff members made us feel like we had the only dog in the world. Like nothing else mattered except getting "Budkus" well again. Our deepest gratitude to all of you for the excellent care and attention we received, for your encouragement, comfort, and understanding, and most importantly for saving his life! Thank you so much.""
    ~ J.,B.,C.