Why does my cat scratching the wall? How to stop this behavior


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why do cats scratch walls
Source : pixabay Cat scratch walls

Spoiler alert: A cat scratching is natural! If you’re a cat parent you probably have noticed this behavior, maybe even suffered from it when it comes to scratching your furniture.

Once your cat takes that familiar posture; stretched legs and body, paws onto the wall and claws out, there’s nothing you can do to stop him, whether it’s a wall, a sofa or a scratching surface, it’s definitely going to have its part of the daily scratches that help ease Fluffy.
In order to domesticate this cat behavior you need to first know the reasons lying behind it, so why do cats scratch walls? And how can I get my cat to stop scratching them?

Why do cats scratch walls?

The scent is your cat’s signature in the house. And one of the ways by which your kid proves his presence in the household to the other pets is when he scratches an area of your house.

Cats have scent glands in many parts of their body, especially in their cheeks and paws. So cat scratching the walls is one of the ways the kitty is trying to stake its claim over that part of the house. Kitties tend to mark by scratching in many cases, among them when a new pet or a newborn joins the family.

Also, it might be a natural reaction to changes in its environment, such as moving out, having new furniture or just having new people over, any minor change could trigger this cat behavior.

Marking territory by frequently scratching the wall is also one of the ways your kitty communicates with other pets of the house, if it’s a multiple pet household, it’s his way of saying that this area belongs to him and no one but him.

Those marks left behind, when your Fluffy scratches the wall, are a visual warning to all the pets of the house, claiming its authority over that area and preventing any other pet to stay anywhere near it.

By some fortunate chance, if the pets in the house are peaceful, those marks are going to inform and make them get away of that area, thus preventing any future fights, and also leave Fluffy happy in his own scented area.

To Mark the personal territory:

The scent is your cat’s signature in the house. And one of the ways by which your kid proves his presence in the household to the other pets is when he scratches an area of your house.

Cats have scent glands in many parts of their body, especially in their cheeks and paws. So cat scratching the walls is one of the ways the kitty is trying to stake its claim over that part of the house.

Kitties tend to mark by scratching in many cases, among them when a new pet or a newborn joins the family. Also, it might be a natural reaction to changes in its environment, such as moving out, having new furniture or just having new people over, any minor change could trigger this cat behavior.

Marking territory by frequently scratching the wall is also one of the ways your kitty communicates with other pets of the house, if it’s a multiple pet household, it’s his way of saying that this area belongs to him and no one but him.

Those marks left behind, when your Fluffy scratches the wall, are a visual warning to all the pets of the house, claiming its authority over that area and preventing any other pet to stay anywhere near it.

By some fortunate chance, if the pets in the house are peaceful, those marks are going to inform and make them get away of that area, thus preventing any future fights, and also leave Fluffy happy in his own scented area.

Claws maintenance:

Another reason behind this behavior, especially for indoor cats, is claws maintenance. Cat scratching walls helps to sharpen the claws and keep them always ready to use.
Whenever your cat scratches a hard surface, the outer weak layer surrounding its claws vanishes to give the place to a new sharper one.

It’s an inherited behavior from their ancestors, who like to keep their claws always sharp to hunt and to tear their preys apart, of course, your cute lazy Fluffy doesn’t scratch to hunt as his ancestors used to, but it’s hardwired in his genes and he was just born with this habit. Plus, sharp claws are very useful for cats; they use them to climb trees and to defend themselves as well.

The stress:

This reason will probably make you worry about your kitty! Well; cats are very sensitive creatures and any minor change in the environment or in their daily routine can make them stress out, and this is one of the main reasons behind cat scratching walls; it’s your cat’s way of reassuring himself by proclaiming his own area.

As we mentioned early on, even the arrival of a newborn or a new pet in the family could trigger stress and push your kitty to become territorial. Otherwise, many reasons could lie behind his stress, things such as a radical change in the owner’s schedule, or having a party or just rearranging the house, all of these and a lot of other scenarios lead to stress, thus to cat scratching walls, which helps Fluffy feel secure again.

To express emotions:

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands! Did you ever fell that happy that you wanted to clap your hands?!… I mean nop nobody does that it’s just a kid’s song dude! But seriously, when you feel so thrilled maybe you sing, maybe you go see your BFF, or you cook, and when you feel angry you just want to punch somebody straight in the face. Well, it’s the same for your kitty; sometimes he scratches to express his happiness or even his discontentment, or any other emotion, cat scratching walls sometimes could be the way your kid kitty expresses his feelings.

Boredom

You’ve done a great job raising such a well behaved cute little healthy kitty, but she constantly scratches everything in her way. Guess what! You have spoiled her too much that she just gets bored from all the fancy things that you brought her, or it could simply be that she isn’t spoiled but doesn’t have enough toys to play with when you’re not around.
Bored cats often like to spend time doing meaningless things in the house in order to spend their energy and amuse themselves, especially if they do not move enough or if you don’t have time to regularly play with them, and scratching your walls happens to be one of those interesting activities.

A strange scent of a foreign mate!

According to studies made by John McGlone the expert animal behaviorist, cats scratch more when they scent the pheromones of the previous cat scratching walls.
To make sure that the only scent existing in the house is his, Fluffy tries to get rid of any intruder’s scent by scratching anything that smells like the previous kitties.

Mirror …mirror!

Whenever your cat starts scratching reflecting surfaces like mirrors and windows, it’s probably because they’re trying to figure out who’s on the other side of the surface; by seeing his reflection he might think there is another cat on the other side. There’s also a theory that says your cat doesn’t pass the “mirror test”, it’s a test by which scientists evaluate the self-awareness of pets.

The after littering ritual:

Sometimes, once your cat is done eating or using the litter box she starts scratching the floor if you’re wondering:” Why does my cat scratch the wall after pooping?” or why does my cat scratch the wall next to his litter box? Well, this could be due to the uncomfortable size of the litter box, or the litter quantity that isn’t enough. Or it could simply be the natural need to bury her excrements, and if there isn’t enough litter, you might find your cat scratching everywhere in the floor to try finding a spot for her stools, to prevent other cats from finding her scent through them.

Okay, I hear you, but why does my cat scratch the wall instead of litter?

Well, this is due to the same reasons; cats are clean animals, whenever they feel the need to poop, they dig a hole to cover their excrement afterward. So when the litter isn’t enough, the kitty needs another place the hide his scent in, and since he’s inside the house, he scratches the wall hoping to find the right place to place his feces in.

Burying the food for later:

In some cases, cat scratching walls behavior could be due to the need to hide the food for later when needed. It’s an instinctive behavior that wild cats have in the wilderness to save food for later when there’s no prey. Or maybe, it’s just that the food is so smelly that the kitty couldn’t support it, so she preferred burying it.

Jerry is hiding in the walls!

What does it mean when a cat scratches the wall?

Cat scratching walls at night is often due to the presence of mice or termites hidden in the walls, you might have not noticed them, but Fluffy can’t miss them. This is an uncommon reason for cat scratching the walls though. They have highly sensitive ears, so any minor scratching done by those tiny creatures can be detected by your kitty.
If you suspect the presence of mice, spread some flour all over the place where you think they live and leave it; the footprints and the tail drag can easily be detected if they pass through it.

Knowing the exact reasons, timing and location of cat scratching walls helps understand more about your kitty’s needs. Your aim should be to redirect this behavior onto adequate objects such as scratching surfaces.

How can I get my cat to stop scratching the walls?

Let’s be straightforward and give the short honest answer: No, you can’t!
As we already mentioned before, cat scratching walls is instinctive, it’s unfair and unpractical to think that the day will come where your kitty just won’t scratch your walls and furniture. Outdoor cats might not need it much, as they do a lot of their scratching outside of the house, but they will still need to do some scratching inside for some of the obvious reasons mentioned above. Indoor cats, on the other hand, will require outlets to do their scratching.

Your aim should be to direct this behavior into the appropriate items and areas, or at least now that you are aware of the possible reasons triggering that kind of behavior, try dealing with them to reduce the scratching around the house, and here are some tips to help you do exactly that:

Cuddles and more playtime can do wonders!

Boredom, as already mentioned, is a real killer, isn’t it?!
You don’t want your cat to get bored, frequent playtime is crucial to make the kitty move and consume its energy. It doesn’t have to be a tiring commitment for you, just 10 to 15 minutes each day is enough to stimulate your kid kitty, also to have a good quality time between the two of you. Plus, when you’re not around, make sure he has all the toys he needs to play, stay entertained and fulfill his hunting needs.

Alternative Outlets for Scratching:

If the cat scratching walls continues, despite all your efforts to play and spend time with him, then maybe it’s time for you to think of an alternative scratching area for your kitty. A scratching post with sisal would be a great idea; cats love that, because of its harsh texture. Or maybe you can get him a scratching post made of the said material to fulfill your cat’s desire to stake his claim over.

Also, make sure the scratching post is high enough to allow your kitty to stretch while scratching. A 31inches scratching post or more would definitely be perfect for Fluffy to play with and spare your walls and furniture.
Post scratching for cats

Secure the house!

If you have a cat that’s really afraid of foreigners, you can secure the house by closing the doors to prevent any intruder cat from coming in.
In case you have multiple cats, you need to get each and every one of them their personal area, with everything they need: bowl, scratching post, litter box, etc. to prevent the confrontation between them inside the house.

Also, each kitty should have its quiet peaceful house where they get to hide whenever something frightened them. That way each kitty will have his own personal area which reduces the need to scratch.

Fluffy should smell his own scent everywhere!

Your kitty feels secured when she smells her own scent wherever she hangs out. To help her feel safe, you can take a tissue and wrap it around her face then dab it everywhere on the walls and furniture.

Trim Fluffy’s nails:

This might help a little to reduce the cat scratching walls behavior, but still, you need to dig deeper to figure out the real reason behind this behavior.
I order to trim the nails, you want to use cat clippers, and do it why your cat is relaxed. If your kid stresses out, use a towel to wrap his paws into. And try doing it very carefully, as their paws are very sensitive.

Sticky tape on furniture or wall

Cover your furniture with a sticky thing, such as double-sided sticky tape, aluminum foil, sheets of sandpaper. Cats hate putting their paws on sticky surfaces. Unpleasant odors can also make things less attractive; to reduce the cat scratching walls behavior.

How can I design scratching areas for my cat?

In order for you to design your itty a scratching post, you first need to answer these two questions:

  • Where do you need it?
  • What are the main features it has to have?

The where!

Behold! Everything light touches is yours!

Well, that’s what goes in your cute little kitty’s mind; you and all your belongings are actually his. That’s why every once in a while he likes to rub against you and mark you with his scent. So the scratching post should be somewhere you spend a lot of time in.

Also cats love to stretch after waking up from a nap, so place the scratching post next to his favorite nap spot, not across the hallway or upstairs where it fits with the decor, because as you already know his majesty Fluffy won’t bother walking to the scratching post, when there’s a perfectly cozy spot where he can nap, which could be a completely different room of where the post is placed.

The what!

When choosing a scratching post you need to keep in mind these criteria:

  • The height and stability
  • Consistent material for scratching and grating
  • The posture; horizontal or vertical
  • Many surfaces and materials.

It’s great to have a vertical tall cat scratching post (more than 31 inches) and a horizontal (flat) or angled cat scratching post. The post should be covered by sisal fabric (metal not rope), while the flat or angled scratcher should have a cardboard insert for a different experience.

How can I get my cat to use the post?

First, remember the location is crucial; the scratching post should be somewhere your kitty likes to head and nap. Not in the lobby, not in the dusty scary basement, where you noticed the cat scratching walls behavior for the first time, without noticing that it was because your kitty was scared like hell, which definitely triggered that reaction. She first will start exploring this new item, then get used to it, then finally use it and actually enjoy it.

The area where the post lies in should be a fun place for your kitty, provide it with stimulating items and toys, maybe even some dangling ropes for your cat’s amusement. Little by little, fill the place with your cat’s toys, maybe even his bowl, to get him used to the post, and then emphasize the feeling of joy whenever your cat decides to try the post, praise her and treat her, then with time magic will happen.

From time to time rub the post with catnip to lure Fluffy to it, or use catnip sprays, this will do wonders. If you have a lot of space, it’s best that you provide many scratching areas in different corners of the house, and in case you have multiple kitties, then that becomes mandatory.

How do I punish my cat for inappropriate scratching?

It’s unfair to punish your kitty for doing what is most natural for her if you do so, that would only make her fear and resent you, and maybe even accentuate the cat scratching walls behavior.

What you need to do is redirect this reaction to the right outlets, and train her to use them even when you’re not around. And this starts by making other surfaces less attractive to scratch, by using elements that she hates to scratch, such as plastic, aluminum foil, or double-sided tape.

Cayenne pepper too is easy to apply and clean afterward, it’s harmless but causes a lot of sneezing. Citrus-based scents or ginger can deter some cats as well.
There’s also the notion of indirect punishment, it’s a non-physical way to punish Fluffy and teach him that what he did is wrong. It consists of making your kitty understand that cat scratching walls brings bad consequences.

You can booby trap the areas he likes to scratch, or use cat deterrents, such as motion detectors with an audible alarm, or stack a few plastic cups that will topple if he scratches in the wrong places. Of course, all the deterrents can’t prevent your cat from scratching, if you don’t provide an alternative that is appealing and well placed

The bottom line:

Cat scratching at night or at any given moment is a natural behavior, of course, many reasons lie behind it, it could be stress, territorial needs, boredom or just pent-up emotions. A lot of reasons trigger this instinctive behavior.

Maybe you can’t get rid of this behavior, but you can at least redirect it to many outlets and also reduce it. All you need to do is figure out the right exact reasons behind it and deal with them, also it’s mandatory to have alternative scratching posts for your kitty’s scratching needs, or else all the deterrents in the world won’t help you.

Finally, punishment is never a good way to train a kitty, it only makes things worse and weakens the relationship between the parents and their kitty kids. Give more time to your kitty and take your time until you figure out the right way to solve the issue.

Tell us: Does your cat scratch the wall? How did you manage to solve the problem?

Share your story with us; maybe it will help other cat parents to spare their walls and furniture!


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