Scratching is an inborn instinct in cats. They mostly prefer scratching onto surfaces where they can sink their claws into. Many are times I find my British Shorthair digging her front claws onto nubby surfaces with her back arched. Although this is beneficial to their health and well-being, it can be frustrating when they choose your carpet or floor. Cats are quite known for spending so many hours sleeping, but when they are not they can become very active. How then can you stop this behaviour? Or do you have to persevere with your feline friend?
To stop your cat(s) from scratching the floor at night, you need to know why they do so in the first place. Simply provide alternative scratching options, make the cat exhausted and full to encourage a good night sleep, or rather cover and furnish your floor if the cat is just destructive.
It is annoying to find your floor scratched all over and having sleepless nights all at once. I know you can reduce the effect by trimming the cat’s claws but how can you prevent it? The bottom line is to avoid the effects not minimise them. If you are among the cat parents dealing with a similar situation, you came to the right place. I have listed solutions for you to try out that have been effective. As much as owning a cat comes with responsibility, you deserve a healthy undisturbed sleep and an undamaged floor. After reading this, you will never have to worry again about your sleep and your carpet.
How do I Stop My Cat from Scratching the Floor at Night
As I mentioned earlier, clawing is beneficial in cats so you should not eliminate the act. Therefore, the best way to solve this is to encourage the act on something else rather than your floor or even furniture. Cats have to relieve their need to sharpen their claws. Provide alternatives for scratching such as scratching posts. Get multiple posts and place them strategically where your cat likes clawing onto.
There are so many types of scratching posts in the pet market to choose from. You can actually make them at home if you are feeling industrious. If your cat likes scratching on your hardwood floor, you need to focus on wooden posts. Also include other materials such as sisal, carpet, and corrugated cardboard materials. Scratching patterns are different in cats but they range between horizontal and vertical scratching. Ideally, provide a vertical scratching post, an inclined scratcher, and a scratching mat to cover all patterns. Ensure the scratching posts are sturdy enough. Once your cats begin using them, they will stop damaging your floor at night.
Cover up your floor
Once cats realise that your floor is appealing on their paws, it gets difficult to drive them away from it. The more they scratch on a particular spot marking it with gland secretions, the more they will keep coming back. Now, all that comes to your mind is protecting the floor by all means. Find out your cat’s preferences then cover the off-limit sports with materials that are unappealing to her paws. For example; aluminium foil, two-sided sticky tape, menthol, citrus odour, cologne, and muscle rub.
If possible, place something like a piece of furniture or a thin mat on the cat’s favourite scratching spot. Another option is to infuse the area with a feline pheromone spray to fool the cat that the territory has been marked by another cat. All these methods act as a deterrent to discourage your cat from scratching the floor at night.
Exhaust your cat before sleep
I came to realise that my cat would scratch the floor at night because she was not ready for sleep. To have cats calm and sleepy at night, they have to be either exhausted or with a full stomach. Schedule interactive play sessions with them during the evening. Incorporate moving, talking, wiggling, and dangling toys that mimic cats, as well as preys such as birds and mice. Play fetch using softballs, Ping-Pong balls, and furry toys.
Playing until your cat seems tired releases all the excess energy. When it is time for bed, the cat will only desire to rest and not scratch the floor all night. Another effective solution is to get a second cat. I’m sure it could be a lot but some cats such as the British Shorthair make very great companions. The two cats will play throughout the day and sleep peacefully at night. This saves both your sleep and your floor! Feeding the cat a main meal minutes before bedtime also helps. The cat will probably knock out after the big meal and not stay awake scratching. For cats that eat during the night, purchase an automatic timed feeder. But be sure to regulate the portions of food to prevent obesity.
Why Do Cats Scratch On Surfaces
Health and grooming
Also known as stropping, the scratching action in cats is a way of grooming. Although some people think they are sharpening the claws, it is slightly different. By doing so, the outer layers of the claws come off revealing a new sharp surface underneath. You might have come across these outer nail layers in spots where your cat likes stropping.
Secondly, as your cat lies down stretching their bodies across the floor while stropping, it exercises the forelimb and spine muscles. This comes in handy since our feline friends are natural hunters. So next time you find your cat scratching on your items, remember it is not an act of spite but self-grooming. Just go ahead and apply the cat-friendly solutions I have listed above.
The use of scent is the main method of feline communication. You are wondering how this is connected to scratching, right? Well, cats have sweat and scent glands on their paws that produce a very unique smell. Now once they claw on a surface, they deposit marks, claw husks, and scents. These act as a message that other cats can see, hear and interpret
Other cats will avoid crossing the boundary to invade these territories. The messages relayed are different though. You might find that when a British Shorthair kitten scratches on a spot, other siblings will come later to scratch on the same spot. They can detect the scent left by the other sibling or even the mother. Your cats might also be communicating to you through scratching when they want your attention.
Negative Reinforcement Is Not the Answer
As I had mentioned, scratching is normal in cats, you just need to show them where to do it. Do not use negative reinforcement no matter how angry you are. As a responsible and caring cat parent, you have to be patient and understanding with these furry ones. Till today, I have never understood how cruel someone can be to the extent of declawing their cats! This is not a solution but torture to cute little cats. Punishing your cat by hitting her is also unacceptable and can cause injuries to her. Yelling and scolding, on the other hand, will only make them lose trust in you. You do not want your pet to mark you as unfriendly or a threat, do you?
Giving cats attention when they begin scratching is also negative reinforcement. They need to learn that scratching does not make them get whatever they want. Even a single glare counts as attention. You need to ignore them until they stop scratching then reward them after a few minutes of good behaviour. It is easier to remove bad behaviour in cats by encouraging good behaviour using treats.
Before you begin judging your cute British Shorthair and her scratching, make sure that medical problems do not apply. If your cat meows and scratches at night restlessly, there could be a medical problem. Such symptoms are as a result of pain or discomfort. Also, remember to trim the cat’s claws frequently especially in sedentary cats. Outgrown claws lead to infection, difficulty in walking, and pain.