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Why do cats sharpen their claws?
|Sunday, January 15, 2006|
|Dear Cat Coach,|
Why do cats sharpen their claws? Ive observed my own little boy sharpening his claws on his cat tree and dont understand why he needs to do this. I do realize providing a scratching post for him will save my furniture and we do have a few positioned around the house for him. Why do cats need to sharpen their claws?
Baffled in Belleview
The commonly used term sharpening claws is misleading. Cats do not actually sharpen their claws when they use cat posts and sometimes their owners favorite couch. Dr. Nick Dodman in his book The Cat Who Cried for Help compares the image of a cat sharpening claws to dragging fish hooks across an armchair to sharpen the barbs on the hooks. So, what are cats doing when they claw and scratch the cat posts and why are they doing it?
Cats scratch cat posts for a variety of reasons. First of all cats condition their claws and toes by exercising muscles and shucking dead nail husks off. A second reason is that scratching objects leave both a visual and olfactory marker of the cat. The claw marks are usually placed strategically on objects, insuring that other passing cats will see their marks. The more and deeper the claw marks the better. I guess one can make an analogy to someone scratching their initials into a tree or painting graffiti on a wall. Cats also have scent glands in their paws that release pheromones. These pheromones are also scent sign posts for other cats, telling other cats exactly who was there and when. Cats dont have telephones, they have claws and paws. The third reason for scratching posts is to stretch. Nothing feels better then reaching up, arching ones back and having a good scratch and stretch.
Since this behavior is normal for cats it is important to provide adequate scratching posts and trees for cats to use, redirecting them away from furniture and rugs. With patience and consistency it is easy to modify your cats behavior so that he will not use the furniture as his own personal scratching post.
2005 by Marilyn Krieger, CCBC All rights reserved
Marilyn Krieger, CCBC is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant. She can be reached for phone and on-site consultations to solve cat behavior problems either by e-mail email@example.com or by phone: 650 780 9485. Additionally, Marilyn teaches cat behavior classes and is available for speaking engagements. You can find out more about The Cat CoachSM at www.thecatcoach.com
Marilyn is certified through The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants
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