Imagine you come home and the wallpaper hanging in long strings from the wall, the carpet is covered with wallpaper scraps and in the middle sits a contented with himself and the world cat. A nightmare? True, but still a reality in some cat households. Usually the picture does not look that bad, but certain areas are gradually processed until the wallpaper finally gives way.
But why do cats scratch wallpaper and how do you get rid of this bad habit? Is it naughty and not just natural behavior that the cat owner has to accept? And are the missing or unsuitable scratching possibilities always to blame for the problem? Or cats decorating wallpaper even neurotic and / or underutilized? We take a closer look at this in this article.
1) Missing or wrong scratching possibilities
Delicious claw sharpening is part of the cat’s natural behavioral repertoire and not only serves to care for the claws, but is also part of the marking behavior. In addition to visual and scent markings, they are created by the sweat and sebum glands on the paws. It seems logical that from a cat’s point of view such markings must be placed in strategically favorable places. So that both the claw care and the marking behavior are satisfied, the type of scratching options and their position in the home are essential.
When cats scratch a vertical object (e.g. the scratching post or wallpaper), they straighten up and work the surface with their front paws in short strokes. The pillars of the tree should therefore be designed in such a way that the cat has the opportunity to actually sit up on a pillar. And of course the tree should be so stable that it does not fall over when you are working on it.
A generously sized scratching post is ideal here, which offers lying and scratching possibilities at the same time, so that you can kill two birds with one stone. This should be in a place that is attractive to the cats and should not be placed in the darkest corner where Katz ‘can neither observe its people nor other interesting things. When it comes to design, less is basically more. Not everything that looks chic to humans is also suitable for cats. In the multi-cat household, there are sometimes several scratching opportunities, one guideline is at least one scratching post (pillar, not tree) per cat that is in the household.
Some cats prefer other scratching opportunities to the sisal-covered tree and also grab the wallpaper if the texture suits them more than that of the tree. Here it can help to offer additional scratching opportunities, e.g. B. stable cardboard scratching furniture. Products from cat-on, for example, are stylish and robust at the same time. Scratching boards or scraping corners at popular places can also help. Some cats prefer to work on carpets. You can also try to make the scratching opportunities more attractive for the cat, for example by experimentally changing them or spraying them with catnip or valerian. A recent study also found that cats prefer S-shaped cardboard scratching opportunities. This preference can also be met with appropriate scratching furniture.
If none of these measures help, this is probably not the cause of the scratching on the wallpaper.
2) The cat is bored
Many cats that come to grips with wallpaper live on the one hand as pure domestic cats and on the other hand often as single cats, often with full-time staff. No wonder the cat is looking for a job.
In this case, a second cat for employment or, depending on the living situation, cat and your own preferences, may also provide relief if necessary. If the cat scratches the wallpaper despite a partner, it is a good idea to provide meaningful employment opportunities while away. For example, burrows and similar activity toys can help to avoid boredom among cats in the home. Sometimes, depending on the constellation, another cat is an alternative, e.g. B. if only an older, calm animal and an active young cat live in the household. Then a second, active cat that can keep up with the youngster can improve the situation.
3) The cat is suffering from stress
Scratching on the wallpaper or other places often occurs when the cat is under tension and / or stress and wants to react. Here it is important to find out what is stressing the cat and how to eliminate the stress factors. Feliway, Bach flowers, etc. can be given as support if necessary. However, the latter should always be coordinated by the specialist to the cat (s) in the household.
4) The cat marks its territory
As already mentioned, claw sharpening not only has a nourishing function, but also serves to mark your own territory. If another cat comes into the household, a young animal becomes sexually mature or a foreign cat often comes to visit without being asked, the long-established cat may feel compelled to mark its territory with claw marks, even if it may not have been noticed by wallpaper art so far.
Feliway spray applied to the areas can also help in this case. Or scratch boards can be attached there, so that the cat can mark its territory, but does no more damage.
5) The cat wants attention
If the cat still scratches despite the fact that there is a suitable scratching option and exclusion of the above-mentioned points, it makes sense to observe once when the wallpaper art occurs primarily. Scratching can also serve as a means of communication and can be used, for example, to invite other cats to play.
If the cat starts scratching when you are in the room and it may even appear to you that it is scratching “provocatively” to get your attention, it would be an idea to start here. It is best to ignore the scratching on the wallpaper and praise the cat if it uses its claws in the right place (i.e. on the scratching post). Attention remains Attention remains attention, whether positive or negative. If you jump up as soon as the cat scratches and scolds you, it has got your attention and thus reached its goal. It is counterproductive.
In addition, you can achieve good results in this and in many other of the cases mentioned by clicker training or generally positive reinforcement. Birgit Laser’s book “Clicker Training for Cats”, which deals extensively with this topic, is recommended here.
The cat still scratches after excluding the above reasons
If a cat has been scratching the wallpaper for a long time, it may be that this habit has already established itself and / or that it has simply learned to appreciate wallpaper as a scratching surface. Many cats find woodchip and often also wallpaper with glitter threads particularly inviting. In this case clicker training can help again. If your cat scratches off the wallpaper and then licks off the plaster, this can in principle also indicate health problems (e.g. anemia). To be on the safe side, this should be clarified.
Scratch marks on the wallpaper do not always result from real scratching on the wallpaper, but can also simply happen in the heat of the day in active cats. Walls (whether with wallpaper or without) are ideal for turning maneuvers and elegant curve technology without having to brake. Many a cat sometimes goes up the walls or the wallpapered door frame while romping, which of course works better with wallpaper than on plaster. It is important to differentiate here and to enjoy a good portion of joie de vivre at times and that your own cats are so healthy and agile that such maneuvers are possible and they have so much confidence in you that they are sometimes lively rage rave. (And yes, you can sometimes take the path over the door frame,
Ways to protect the walls
The walls could be protected with sisal mats or plexiglass in the scratch area, which may look nice depending on the home furnishings, but is not necessarily cheap in the case of plexiglass. The application of so-called elephant skin, a liquid, colorless wallpaper protection, can help to at least minimize the damage caused by the cat. Another option is to simply have a few rolls of wallpaper in stock and renew them again and again, to work with a wallpaper board or, if possible, to simply do without wallpaper entirely. Gives such beautiful textured plasters and wall paints. 🙂
It is often recommended to apply aluminum foil, plastic foil or double-sided adhesive tape to the scratches, as the cats do not find this pleasant on the paws. However, it should be noted here that cats with PICA syndrome may feed on plastic and aluminum foil. Attention!
Conclusion: You can see that scratching the wallpaper can have very different causes and it is not that rare that you only do it with a suitable scratching post, even if it should of course be available.
Are your cats scratching the wallpaper? If so, have you found a way to stop it?