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Cats scratch furniture for a number of reasons. Scratching is a good form of exercise for them. They get to stretch out their bodies and extend and retract their nails. When they scratch, the movements help remove the outer nail sheaths. Cats also scratch to leave visual and olfactory (scent) markers. Their interdigital glands, which are located between the pads of their paws, leave odors behind so that other cats know that the “marker” cat has been in the area. When cats scratch objects, they also leave small gouges, which are visual signals to other cats that there is a cat in the area.
Some cats also may scratch furniture because they are not provided with adequate scratching posts. Other cats have developed a preference for particular materials, such as the expensive fabrics that our couches and armchairs are made from! The location of certain furniture may make it a great place for cats to provide a visual signal or get a good scratch in after waking from a nap. In the wild, scratching sites are usually located in areas where the cats spend a fair portion of their time.
And remember, if you’ve tried all these recommendations and your cat is still “redecorating” the furniture, seek professional help from your veterinarian.
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