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 a Staff Writer on PetsRader, covering news, features and buying guides. She has a wealth of experience looking after animals, having grown up with dogs, cats and horses all of her life. She’s particularly interested in pet happiness and behavior, which she loves to research in her spare time. You’ll often find her watching webinars on reactivity in dogs or researching cat body language. She loves going the extra mile for her cats Chilli and Nala (who also help out with testing the best products for our buying guides). 

Megan studied BA Journalism at the University of Westminster, where she specialized in lifestyle journalism and was editor of Smoke Radio’s online magazine. She also graduated from West Herts College with a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Journalism. Before joining the PetsRadar family last year, she worked on the editorial team at Harrods and has spent most of her career writing for specialized titles, like RunningShoesGuru, Licklist and Mr. After Party. 

Megan works alongside qualified vets and accredited trainers to ensure you get the best advice possible. She is passionate about finding accurate and helpful answers to your pet-related questions.