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What is my cat thinking?
The essential guide to understanding pet behaviour

  Claws and paws
 

Cats are armed with razor-sharp claws that are hooked at the ends so that they can get a good purchase on prey. They are normally kept retracted so that they stay sharp, but when the paws are used to capture prey they are protracted out of the flap of skin that covers them.

Claws grow continuously and, periodically, the old outer casing needs to be removed to reveal the new, sharp claw underneath. This is done in strategic places so as to leave scent messages.

   
  Must sharpen claws Must sharpen claws

This scratching post is much too small for this cat to use properly. Cats prefer to stretch up to full height so that they can use their body weight to help drag their claws against the surface. This cat has to sit down to use this post.

DID YOU KNOW?
  • Kittens are born with their claws extended. Gradually the muscles develop that retract them into a protective sheath of skin
  • The pads of the feet are very sensitive and incorporate many touch receptors
  • Some cats behave strangely just before an earthquake hits. Perhaps they can detect vibrations of the earth through their sensitive pads

 
 

This is just right

This is just right

A tree branch like this that is firmly fixed makes an ideal scratching post and will help kittens to learn to transfer their scratching to trees outside once they are old enough to go out. This is tall enough for the kitten to be able to stretch up to full height so that he can use his body weight to help bring his claws down hard enough. In fact, this kitten may be playing rather than scratching, as cats usually balance their weight over their hind legs when they scratch so that their paws are brought down vertically.

 
 

This is a good place


In the garden, cats would scratch trees or wood. However, any similar surface will do and, indoors, furniture is a favourite target. This sofa has been scratched before and smells of other cats that have been there. This young cat sniffs carefully to detect who was there and has interrupted her scratching to do so. The sofa is in a prominent place in the room and it is a good place on which to leave a scent mark.

This is a good place

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Training for Life - Puppy/Dog Training Classes in a box!
The Rescue Dog/ Adopt the Perfect Dog by Gwen Bailey
The Perfect Puppy by Gwen Bailey
What is my dog thinking? by Gwen Bailey
What is my cat thinking? by Gwen Bailey
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The Puppy Handbook/ The Ideal Puppy by Gwen Bailey