How To Stop Your Cat From Clawing You
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One of the most common problems we face when talking about cats, is their nails. Often when playing or petting them you might find that they claw and/or get so excited that they scratch you. This scratching may be accidental, but sometimes it can be done on purpose. At times these scratches can be so painful, they even draw blood. These little sharp horn-like nails have a destructive and painful effect that can exert damages to both skin and objects. These cuts, scratches and marks caused by cats can however scratching can be avoided.
This is why, in this AnimalWised article, we will explain how to stop your cat from clawing you. Additionally, we will be explaining the origin of this behavior, explain what cat scratching disease is and suggest the best environment conducive in stopping a cat from scratching you.
Why do cats scratch?
Before providing you with some tricks on how to stop your cat from scratching you, it is important to understand why our cats scratch in the first place. In order to understand this behavior we must look at the cat species. By analyzing their customs and innate biological behavior, instinctive to these felines, we can better understand how to stop this behavior.
When cats are kittens they scratch as a way of understanding and exploring their new environments. Cats are both predatory and carnivorous animals who are usually very independent. To hunt they need to maintain a flexible, agile and fast body, where their claws play a very important role. In addition to feeding, cats must mark their territory.
Cats mark in order to emit substances, such as pheromones, which play a crucial role in communication between felines. Therefore, they use this scraping mechanism as a way of leaving visible and odoriferous signals in certain places of strategic importance to them. Cats also scratch in order to eliminate their outer nail covers. In more serious cases, cats scratch as a way of dealing with stress and anxiety. If you believe this is the case, we recommend consulting a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Why does my cat scratch me?
Now that we understand the origin of cat scratching, we can analyze why our cat claws at us when we pet them. It is important to comprehend that not all cats scratch their tutors, this behavior depends on the animal as an individual. Some cats for example, love to be petted. Others on the other hand, find it displeasing and therefore react aggressively. In between these two extremities we have another type of cat: the cat that loves to be pet but also fears it. These kittens have often been said to suffer from 'petting and biting syndrome.'
It is important to understand that when cats communicate with each other, this period is not long lasting. Therefore, naturally and instinctively, if a cat is overly-petted, they will begin to feel irritated and claustrophobic. This feeling of irritation will lead to them to eventually claw or scratch, as a sign of saying '' that's enough now.''
It is also necessary to understand that cats find some areas of their bodies more sensitive than others, i.e: their stomachs. Therefore, if you pet this area and spark such sensitivity, cats will naturally claw back as a response.
Is my cat stressed?
One of the main reasons for a cat scratching, biting or clawing is that it is scared or stressed. A scared cat will react in a fight or flight mode. If they feel threatened, they will instinctively use their tools (nails) as a way of protecting themselves. If you believe your cat is scared, take a look at this AnimalWised article on: how to approach a scared cat.
A stressed cat will react very similarly to a scared cat. A cat that is stressed will show symptoms that will make it easy for you to make a diagnosis. Take a look at these symptoms of a stressed cat:
- A repeated onset of infectious diseases
- Increased aggressiveness- biting and scratching
- Change in eating behavior
- Urine Marking
If you believe that your cat is scratching you as a result of stress or fear, we suggest you consult a behavioral feline specialist or your veterinarian as soon as possible. If this behavioral problem isn't treated, it can worsen and result in more severe illness.
Can a cat scratch make you sick?
If your cat scratches you, we suggest cleaning it well and making sure that your cat doesn't lick the wound. If by any chance you notice that the wound is becoming infected, we recommend consulting a professional to ensure that you haven't caught the cat scratch disease.
What is Cat scratch disease?
Cat scratch disease is an infection caused by exposure to the bacteria Bartonella hensela. It is important to make sure your cat goes to the vet for regular checkups as a cat carrying this disease does not show symptoms. This infection is transmitted by a bite or scratch from an infected cat. It will appear as a small lesion of less than 1cm in length. This benign self-limiting disease will show through symptoms, such as:
- Swollen Lymph-nodes (most commonly)
- Loss of appetites
If you believe that you may be suffering from the cat scratch disease, we recommend going to a doctor for a diagnosis. Cat scratch disease is not commonly serious in healthy people, however, if you already suffer from a present pathology or any predispositions, your doctor might recommend treatment.
How to prevent my cat from scratching me.
As we have already mentioned, it is important to first rule out any stress or anxiety in your cat. Once this has been done, if your cat is still clawing at you, we have collected some tips on how to prevent your cat from scratching you:
- Environmental enrichment: Make sure that your cat has cat scratchers and toy to play with. By providing your cat with such toys, it will allow it to channel its biting and scratching energies elsewhere. In addition, make sure that you play with your cat enough. The recommended amount of playtime a cat needs is 15 minutes, twice a day.
- Gentle scolding; If you see your cat performing such "forbidden" action, like clawing, you can try to say "no" firmly without shouting. You should never punish your cat, neither should you ever beat your cat. Punishment such as this will cause the cat to become more stressed, in turn becoming counterproductive.
- Ignore: If your cat scratches you, we recommend walking away and not giving your cat attention. This will show your cat, indirectly, that this action will not result in any benefits.
- Make its feeding time fun: Because cats are given their food by humans, instead of hunting it, they become bored and restless. This boredom results in heightened energy when they play with us. One way to counteract this restlessness is by making its feeding time fun. There are many objects on the market used for this, such as: a kitty kong.
- Positive reinforcement: Cats respond very well to positive reinforcement. Give the cat a different object to claw at, like a toy mouse. When they bring it to you, reward it with a snack. This action will parallel the moment you didn't acknowledge the cat when it bit your hand. Cats are intelligent and this comparison will therefore allow it to better understand what is good and bad.
If you want to read similar articles to How To Stop Your Cat From Clawing You, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.