Cats can be lovely household pets, but they are equipped with razor-sharp claws that, if not used carefully, can cause you and those living in and visiting your home some serious scratches.
When scratching is playful
Most cats are naturally playful. A play is a very useful developmental milestone for most felines, as it helps them to develop their coordination and problem-solving skills, as well as learning how to interact with other cats.
There are different types of play. In a solitary play, your cat will direct her attention to an inanimate object such as a ball, toy, paper bag or box. In contrast, social play may be directed towards other animals you have in the house, including other cats, and the humans in your family.
Scratching and nipping is a natural part of playtime for cats, but this can be a problem when it comes to them interacting with people, as they can easily inadvertently hurt you. This is often especially concerning for cat owners who also have young children.
When scratching isn’t playful
Occasionally a cat may lash out and scratch people around her because she feels uncomfortable. This is often referred to as aggression and is normally caused by overstimulation, fear or anxiety.
Thankfully there are some steps that you can take to discourage your cat from scratching you and your loved ones.
Read her body language
If you are having a hug with your partner and get hot or uncomfortable and want to move away, you can explain your reasons why. Cats can’t tell us how they are feeling and so understanding and recognizing her body language is essential to know when she is seeking attention and when she may have had enough and wants to opt out of a petting session.
Trim her claws regularly
Claw trimming is probably a regular part of your grooming regime for your cat anyway, as it keeps them from ingrowing. However, trimming them back on a weekly basis can also help to protect your family from scratches.
Give your cat ‘time out’
If you are playing with your cat and she scratches you, you should end the game immediately by leaving the room. Removing yourself is far easier than trying to place your cat in a specific spot. Not only is she unlikely to stay, but she may also lash out at you if you try to move her.
Provide a variety of toys
Giving your cat plenty of toys to choose from is a good way to divert their attention if they start to play too roughly. They may express a preference for a specific type of toy that they can scratch and swipe at.
Get a scratching post
Scratching posts are an important tool for any cat owner. Scratching is a habit of all felines and a post gives your cat a safe space to do it that won’t ruin your furniture or your skin!
Get your cat a playmate
If your cat seems very sociable, then consider getting her a playmate! Another young, playful cat can make the perfect friend for her and they will be able to understand one another much quicker.
With consistency and patience, you can dissuade your cat from scratching without inhibiting her natural instinct to play and socialize.