BestForPets is reader-supported. Your purchases via our links may earn us an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Our Affiliate Disclaimer

Why Do Cats Need A Scratching Post?

If you've ever owned a cat, you're undoubtedly aware that cats scratch frequently. Scratching is a must for cats, not simply a favored hobby.

If you own a cat, you must give them with a means to satisfy this demand. They will damage your furniture, rugs, and walls if you do not.

Yet, why do cats scratch? Unlike what you may have heard, cats do not sharpen their claws by scratching. There are several reasons why your cat may feel the urge to scratch, which might vary depending on the time of day, your cat's age, and other variables.

Occasionally, the cause of a cat's scratching is unknown. After all, we cannot inquire as to why your cat is scratching. Yet, we can make some educated assumptions based on what we already know about cats.

Let's examine each likely cause listed in "Why Do Cats Need a Scratching Post?" by BestForPets (bestforpets.org).

The Top 4 Reasons Cats Needs A Scratching Post

1. Nail Maintenance

It is correct that cats utilize scratching to maintain their nails. Yet, they are not exactly filing their nails. In reality, they are wearing down their nails; your cat is doing the reverse.

Cats, like most other animals, have continually growing nails. Yet, cats in captivity do not frequently wear down their nails. After all, they are not out hunting and climbing.

Hence, they must use a different method to wear them down, which often involves scratching. This prevents them from becoming excessively lengthy, which may be quite uncomfortable for your cat.

You may cut your cat’s nails to aid with this maintenance. Yet, most cats will scratch instinctively to keep their nails in tip-top form.

Scratching also assists cats in shedding the outermost coating of their claws, which must be removed as the nail develops. Sometimes, this outer layer will get damaged, necessitating an earlier shedding than usual.

Scratching is essential to the health of your cat’s nails in any case.

2. Marking

Cats have smell glands located all throughout their bodies. Not unexpectedly, scent glands are present in many of the areas cats often utilize to contact other items. For example, a cat’s forehead and cheeks are covered in smell glands, which explains why cats rub themselves against objects.

Cats utilize these glands to communicate long-distance and gradually. Your cat may inform other felines about their gender, disposition, and mating status by leaving their smell behind. In order to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings, they might also claim territory and leave warnings behind.

Since humans do not communicate through fragrance, our cat relies heavily on it.

Oddly, cats also possess smell glands between their toes. Hence, when they scrape on an object, their fragrance is left behind. It is possible that your cat’s need to scratch along borders is a means of claiming territory.

Although while this is less of a concern for domestic cats, many still use their smell glands to communicate.

3. Exercise

Climbing is a common kind of exercise for cats. Yet, they may also scrape rather than climb a surface. When playing and running, you may observe that your cat scratches something for a minute. This occurs more frequently in kittens than in adults because they are more active. Nonetheless, adult cats do it occasionally as well, albeit less frequently.

If your cat is really active, you may observe increased climbing and scratching. Some extremely laid-back breeds may never display this tendency. That relies entirely on their temperament and personality.

Also, if your cat must climb to reach higher locations, they may scratch more. Cat condominiums, for instance, stimulate scratching in this manner. But, if you have ramps or limited structures for climbing, your cat may scratch less.

4. Attention

Occasionally, cats may scratch because they know it will attract your attention. For example, if you consistently swat away your cat when it scratches the couch, it may utilize this behavior to attract your attention.

If your cat scratches the sofa and then abruptly stops when you tell it not to, this may be the cause of the habit. It is be that they are not paying close attention to you; they may not have been scratching to begin with.

Cats are extremely intelligent and will find out what garners them attention and what does not.

If your cat is scratching for attention, it is better to praise them when they use the scratching post and ignore them when they scratch the sofa. This may initially be challenging, but your cat will quickly adapt to the new behavior and shift gears.

Are Scratching Posts Good for Cats?

There are several causes for why cats scratch. Even if your cat does not scratch for all of the aforementioned reasons, they will still do so to help wear down their nails. If you do not give a suitable location for them to scratch, they will scratch on something else.

Hence, your cat will likely scratch. It entirely depends on what they intend to scratch. Thus, we strongly advise all cat owners to purchase a variety of scratching posts. We do recommend purchasing many items.

Cats will not scratch only in one area of your home. Instead, they will likely seek out densely inhabited places. Thus, you will need to buy in several different scratching posts. There are a variety of designs available, so you do have several alternatives.

You do not necessary need to increase the number of scratching posts if you have many cats.


As said in “Why Do Cats Need a Scratching Post?” by BestForPets (bestforpets.org), cats scratch mostly to maintain healthy nails and to communicate with others. Even if you only have one cat, it will instinctively use the smell glands in its paws to leave its fragrance behind.

Some cats, however, may scratch as a kind of exercise and to release surplus energy. Typically, only energetic cats engage in this behavior, however occasionally even docile cats may do so.

In a similar manner, some cats discover that they receive attention when they scratch, therefore they may continue to do so. This is the sole problematic motive for scratching, as cats may intentionally scratch inappropriate items to get your attention.

But, cats scratch for quite normal causes most of the time. It is one of a cat’s basic wants, thus you should provide them with lots of scratching posts.

Author Image

Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


Rated 0 out of 5
0 out of 5 stars (based on 0 reviews)
Very good0%

There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to write one.

Related articles