Cats are inquisitive and have unique personalities. They also have instinctive behavior, which means they have natural urges. Unfortunately, this often means they like to scratch your walls. In this article, get to know ways you can deter cats from scratching the walls and the reasons why they do it.
How do I stop my cat from scratching the walls?
Here are a few tricks to try:
1. Place a wall-mounted cat scratcher.
One way to stop your cat from scratching walls is to install a wall-mounted cat scratcher. Cats love to stand on their two hind legs to have a good scratch so this would be ideal for them. Opt for two or more of these scratchers, especially if you have more than one cat at home. These are good additions even to the standard scratching posts you may have at home.
If your cat is hesitant to use it, sprinkle catnip on it so she will find it appealing. In the beginning, you may have to demonstrate how to use the scratcher so your furry friend will follow suit.
2. Purchase a pheromone diffuser.
Pheromone diffusers like Feliway are safe and affordable products that emit calming pheromones to calm and relax your cat. If your cat tends to scratch excessively due to stress, these diffusers can be a great help. They can also ease conflict if you have a multi-cat home.
3. Spray citrus deterrent spray on the walls.
Citrus scents are repulsive to cats and make a good repellent solution to discourage your cat from getting near and scratching walls and furniture. A citrus deterrent spray is an affordable option as opposed to commercially-manufactured ones.
To make the spray, simply mix two cups of water, one cup of citrus peel (such as lime or lemon shavings), and two teaspoons of lemon juice. Mix the solution, place it in a spray bottle, and spritz it on the walls and other areas of your home. Just make sure not to overspray since it may stain the walls or furniture.
Another budget-wise cat deterrent spray is vinegar. Mix one part vinegar with one part water and spritz it on walls and areas your cat likes to scratch.
4. Install new climbing spots.
Cats love to climb! Your cat may be clawing and scratching at your wall because she wants to scale it and go after a lizard or bug. Provide your cat with places to jump and climb by installing climbing spots like a cat tree or a cat condo. You may opt to buy from online shops, or if you have carpentry skills, you can create one yourself.
- Provide your cat ample attention and exercise.
Some cats resort to destructive behavior like scratching walls to get the attention of their owners. It could be that you’ve been out most of the day and your cat is trying to tell you that she wants to play with you. Make sure to spend at least 15 to 30 minutes with your cat each day. Play with her using interactive toys like feather wands to hone her pouncing and leaping skills. Giving your cat time and attention prevents stress and allows her to be physically active, too.
Why do cats scratch walls?
1. To mark their territory
Cats scratch walls and other areas at home to mark their scent and claim it as their territory. They have scent glands on the cheeks and paws and aside from rubbing their bodies on something, scratching is another way to stake their claim over certain areas at home. Through scratching, cats are also communicating to other cats and pets at home that a space is part of their territory. They may also leave behind claw marks as a visual warning for other cats to stay away from a particular place.
2. For claw maintenance
Another reason why cats scratch walls is to maintain and sharpen their claws. Scratching hard surfaces removes the outer weak and dead layers of nails to give way to sharper ones. This is part of a cat’s instinctive behavior since their ancestors kept their claws sharp. This also made it easier for them to hunt and tear their prey apart.
3. As a manifestation of stress
Your cat may be scratching your walls at home because she is stressed. This could be due to abrupt changes in her routine; scratching is a way to vent the stress and claim areas as her own. The reasons for her stress and anxiety could be the arrival of a new family member, a home remodeling, or changes in her owner’s schedule. Scratching walls could be your cat’s outlet to reassure herself and to feel secure again.
4. To express their emotions
Cat experts note that the wall scratching episodes could be a cat’s way to express its emotions. It could be scratching to express happiness, anger, or discontentment.
5. To alleviate boredom
Cats may also scratch walls and other areas because they are bored. They usually feel this way when they are left alone at home for long periods. Some owners do not have enough time to play with their cat or may always be busy with their careers. With nothing else to do, cats tend to scratch walls and become destructive to entertain themselves.
Provide interactive toys like puzzle feeders for your cat to keep herself busy if you leave her at home for long chunks of time.
6. To explore different textures or materials
If you notice your cat scratching a wall with reflective materials, it could be that she is trying to figure out what is on the other side. She may also think that there is another cat on the other side.
7. To protect their territory
John McGlone, an expert animal behaviorist, notes that cats tend to scratch more if they detect the pheromones of other cats that previously scratched on the walls. Cats will instinctively scratch on those walls to remove the scents of those previous cats.
8. To fight against the presence of mice in the walls
Cats have a superior sense of hearing. They can detect the slightest sound and movement of mice between the walls. As a result, they will scratch on the walls excessively, hoping to catch the rodents.
9. To hide something
Cats may also scratch walls because they want to hide their food. This is an instinctive behavior that could be triggered if they do not like the food you are giving them. They may also be scratching the wall to hide their poop. This could be because the cat is not happy with her litter box or the type of litter provided. Felines may also be doing that because there is not enough litter in the box and she wants to bury her poop to prevent other cats from finding her scent.
Cats have a natural urge to scratch because they are marking their territory. They also like to stretch and flex their muscles and to maintain their claws. They tend to scratch on walls, furniture, and other surfaces that have appealing textures. However, there are measures to stop them from scratching, such as installing climbing spots, placing a wall-mounted cat scratcher, and providing them with ample attention and exercise.
Image: istockphoto.com / YaroslavKryuchka