Why Cats Scratch

Let’s break this up in two parts. We’ll have a conversation about what may seem like a semi-innocuous word: declaw. A declaw, or onychietomy, is a controversial surgical amputation of the P3 joint of a cat’s paw (similar to if you were to remove the first knuckle of a person’s finger) and usually to prevent a cat from scratching. But first, why do cats scratch? Cats are digitigrade, meaning they walk on their toes. And scratching is a completely normal behavior for them. Scratching is instinct, it’s natural, and it just feels good to them. The act of scratching removes the dead outer part of the cat’s nails and it stretches their claws, toes, legs, and back which leads to the release of hormones that make the cat feel good (a pheromone that can come from the interdigital glands of a cat’s paw). They may scratch due to feeling anxiety or enthusiasm, or to mark their territory via the scent glands in their paws. They scratch to satisfy their needs for comfort, not to make you mad or to purposefully destroy your things. They simply like to stretch out and extend their claws on tall, vertical, non-wobbly objects (which is why that dining room chair or your favorite couch or even the door trim into your bedroom is all torn up). You will likely not come across a feline who doesn’t like to scratch.

Stay tuned for Part Two!

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