Expert reveals 4 reasons why your cat loves to scratch so much

Mischievous kitten scratching an orange sofa
(Image credit: noreefly)

When you’ve just bought a brand-new sofa, the last thing you want is for your cat to scratch it up and make a mess. As cat owners, we know what that’s like and have had far too many pieces of furniture destroyed ourselves. 

One way to avoid this problem is by investing in one of the best cat scratching posts so they focus their attention on that instead. For more ways to prevent this from happening, our guide on how to keep cats from scratching furniture can help you.

Although this behavior can be annoying (and expensive), there are some pretty good reasons why they do it which Amanda Campion, a clinical animal behaviorist, explained in her recent Instagram post. If you want to find out what they are, keep on reading: 

1. Survival

Amanda explains that climbing trees would have helped them to survive in the wild, and to maintain the claws that help them climb, they need to scratch them. 

Instead of cutting their nails down with scissors like humans, cats do it a little differently. Their claws grow from the inside out and when they scratch, the sheaths (the outside) come off and a new claw underneath is revealed. 

2. Maintain healthy muscles

Scratching is also a great way for your cats to stretch, flex, and maintain their muscles. While a cat scratches, they’ll usually be stretching and flexing at the same time which helps to keep them toned and agile. If you’re looking for other ways to keep your cat in tip-top shape, try these seven cat exercises.

3. It feels good

If your cat is feeling a little anxious, they might start scratching to relieve some of that stress. Whenever your cat scratches, it releases endorphins in their brain which makes them feel happier. It's worth reading up on anxiety in cats to find out how you can help them.

4. They’re marking their territory

Amanda says that when a cat wants to mark their territory, they might start scratching a surface. When they do this, they leave behind a scent from their interdigital glands in their paws, telling other cats who’s boss. 

Wondering ‘why does my cat scratch the wall?’ We asked an expert vet to explain. If you need advice on how to calm an aggressive cat, here are the answers you’ve been searching for.

Frisco 33.5-in Sisal Cat Scratching Post

Frisco 33.5-in Sisal Cat Scratching Post

$46.12 at Chewy

Your cats are going to love this 35.5-inch scratching post (and so will your furniture). Say goodbye to scratched-up sofas and let this be the only place they claw. It’s available in three different colors, meaning there’s a style to fit every home interior. They’ll be able to scratch, jump and stretch to their heart’s content (without upsetting their pawrents). 

Megan Milstead
Staff Writer

Megan is Staff Writer on PetsRadar and covers news, features, buying guides, and reviews. When she’s not talking about her cats, Nala and Chilli (a rare occasion), you’ll find her watching funny pet videos on Instagram and sending hundreds of them to her friends. She’s particularly interested in pet wellness and is fascinated by cat behavior. Megan has been animal-obsessed for as long as she can remember, having grown up with pets since the age of three and competed in horse riding competitions for seven years. She has had a variety of animals, including horses, dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, and fish, which taught her first-hand everything she knows about pet care.


Megan studied Journalism at the University of Westminster, where she specialized in lifestyle journalism and was Editor of the online student publication, Smoke Radio. She has experience working across digital and print media and previously worked for titles such as Harrods, My Local News, and Licklist. As a committed pet mom of two, she enjoys going the extra mile for her cats and is passionate about helping readers find the answers they need.