Why Do Cats Scratch Paper?

Cats are notorious for their quirky and peculiar behaviors, leaving us scratching our heads in confusion and awe. One of these oddities is their fascination with scratching paper. As a cat parent, you may have witnessed your furry friend shredding toilet paper or wrapping paper to bits, leaving you wondering why they do it.

Before diving into the specifics of why cats scratch paper, let’s first understand the reasons behind their scratching behavior in general. Scratching is a natural instinct that allows cats to stretch their muscles, mark their territory, and relieve stress. It’s not just about sharpening their claws or leaving visible marks around your home.

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But what is it about paper that draws cats in? Is it the sound it makes or something deeper? This blog post will explore the various reasons why cats love to scratch paper and provide tips for pet parents to keep their kitties from turning all their beloved papers into confetti. So sit tight as we unravel the mystery behind this fascinating behavior of our feline friends.

Why Cats Scratch Paper

As it turns out, cats have a natural instinct to scratch, and they do it for several reasons. Here are some possible explanations as to why cats scratch paper.

Firstly, cats scratch paper to maintain their claws. Scratching helps remove the dull outer layer of their claws and reveal the sharp new layer underneath. This is important for cats as it helps them defend themselves, climb trees, and catch prey. So, when your cat is scratching on paper, they’re actually taking care of their claws.

Secondly, scratching on paper can be a way for cats to mark their territory. Cats have scent glands in their paws, and scratching leaves behind both visual and olfactory marks that signal to other cats that this is their territory. So, if your cat is scratching on paper, they could be trying to stake their claim on that particular area.

Thirdly, scratching on paper can be a way for cats to relieve stress and anxiety. By engaging in this natural behavior, cats can release pent-up energy and tension. If you notice that your cat is excessively scratching on paper or other surfaces, it’s important to provide them with plenty of toys, scratching posts, and other forms of mental and physical stimulation to alleviate any potential stressors.

Lastly, some cats simply enjoy the texture and sound of tearing paper. It can be satisfying to them, much like how humans enjoy popping bubble wrap or cracking knuckles. So, if your cat is scratching on paper for no apparent reason, it could just be because they like the feeling of it.

To redirect this behavior away from damaging furniture or important papers, owners can provide their cats with appropriate scratching materials such as scratching posts or cardboard scratchers. These not only satisfy cats’ natural urge to scratch but also provides necessary physical and mental stimulation for our feline friends.

a. Satisfying Texture

Don’t be alarmed, it’s not just mindless destruction. Believe it or not, there’s a reason behind their behavior. As an expert on “satisfying texture,” I can tell you that cats are drawn to paper due to its rough and satisfying texture.

Cats have retractable claws that require regular sharpening. Scratching helps them remove the outer layer of their claws, exposing the sharper ones underneath. And what better way to accomplish this than with a surface like paper? It provides the perfect rough texture for cats to scratch to their heart’s content.

But it’s not just about maintaining their claws. Scratching on paper also provides a tactile sensation that cats find enjoyable. The sound of the paper tearing as they scratch is music to their ears, and the feeling of ripping through something is satisfying to their paws. This sensation is particularly appealing to indoor cats who may not have access to natural materials such as tree bark or logs.

Of course, not all cats are attracted to scratching on paper. Some may prefer different textures such as cardboard or carpet. Therefore, it’s important to provide a variety of scratching materials to choose from. And if your cat is one of those who loves scratching on paper, setting up a designated scratching area can help prevent them from shredding other inappropriate surfaces in your home.

b. Appealing Sound

When it comes to scratching on paper, one of the reasons behind this behavior is the appealing sound it creates.

Cats are known for their love of sound, and the crisp, rustling noise produced by scratching on paper can be music to their ears. This sensory experience provides them with a form of stimulation that engages their senses and can be particularly satisfying for cats who are bored or lack mental stimulation.

In addition to the sound, scratching on paper also provides cats with a range of textures and sensations that they find compelling. Cats enjoy exploring different surfaces and experiencing new sensations, which may explain why they are drawn to paper as a scratching surface.

However, it’s not just about the sound and sensation. Cats may also scratch on paper simply because it’s readily available. Many cat owners have likely experienced their feline companion taking an interest in any piece of paper left lying around the house, whether it be a newspaper, magazine, or receipt. In these cases, the appeal may not necessarily be the sound or sensation of the paper itself, but rather the novelty of having something new to explore.

To redirect your cat’s behavior and protect your belongings from unwanted damage, it’s important to provide alternative scratching surfaces and toys. Look for scratching posts or pads made from materials like sisal rope or cardboard that mimic the texture of paper. You can also provide your cat with toys that make satisfying noises, such as crinkle balls or toys with bells inside.

c. Seeking Attention or Stimulation

As someone who has devoted their life to studying feline behavior, I can tell you that cats are fascinating creatures with a variety of quirky habits. One of the most intriguing behaviors is when they scratch on paper. Have you ever wondered why your furry friend does this? Well, it turns out that scratching paper is one way that cats seek attention or stimulation.

Scratching is a natural behavior for cats since it helps them stretch their muscles, sharpen their claws, and mark their territory. However, when your cat scratches on paper, it may be because they are trying to communicate with you or other cats in the household. Here are some reasons why your cat might be scratching paper:

  • Seeking Attention: Cats are social creatures and require interaction with their owners or other cats to feel fulfilled. If your cat is scratching on paper, it could be their way of saying, “Hey, pay attention to me.” Make sure to spend quality time with your kitty and provide plenty of playtime to keep them engaged.
  • Relieving Stress: Like humans, cats can experience stress and anxiety. Scratching is a natural stress-reliever for cats, so if your cat is feeling anxious or bored, they may turn to scratching as a way to cope. Provide them with a calm environment and plenty of toys and activities to help them relax.
  • Marking Territory: Cats use their claws to mark their territory, and scratching paper is no exception. Your cat might be trying to leave their scent on the paper as a way of claiming it as theirs.

To prevent your cat from scratching on paper, make sure they have plenty of toys and other forms of stimulation. You can also provide them with a scratching post or other designated scratching surface so that they have an appropriate outlet for their scratching behavior. Remember that yelling or punishing your cat for scratching will only make matters worse.

Excessive Scratching as a Sign of Stress or Anxiety

Instead, it can be a sign of stress or anxiety – much like how humans tend to bite their nails or fidget when feeling anxious.

So, what triggers excessive scratching in cats? Let’s explore the reasons.

Changes in the environment can be very stressful for cats. Moving to a new home or adding a new pet to the household can leave cats feeling anxious. And even changes in routine, such as feeding times or litter box placement, can lead to stress.

Cats may also experience stress or anxiety due to medical issues such as urinary tract infections or digestive problems. Therefore, it is essential to rule out any underlying medical conditions before assuming that your cat’s excessive scratching is solely due to stress or anxiety.

If you notice your cat scratching excessively, it is vital to identify and address the source of their stress or anxiety. Providing a safe and comfortable environment with plenty of toys and designated scratching posts can help reduce their stress levels. Spending quality time with your cat and providing regular playtime can also help alleviate their anxiety.

In some cases, medication may be necessary to manage a cat’s stress or anxiety. However, it is always crucial to discuss this option with a veterinarian before administering any medication.

In conclusion, excessive scratching can indeed be a sign of stress or anxiety in cats. It’s crucial to identify and address the source of their discomfort for them to feel relaxed and contented again. Here are some tips that could help:

  • Create a safe and comfortable space for your cat
  • Provide plenty of toys and scratching posts
  • Spend quality time with your cat
  • Discuss with your vet if medication is necessary

The Importance of Providing Toys and Mental Stimulation

Without adequate mental stimulation, cats can quickly become bored and resort to destructive behaviors such as scratching furniture or walls.

Scratching is a natural behavior for cats, but it becomes problematic when they don’t have an appropriate outlet for it. Providing them with scratching posts and pads can redirect their scratching behavior to a more suitable surface. However, toys also play a critical role in preventing destructive behavior by giving cats something else to focus their energy on.

Interactive toys and puzzles are excellent tools for providing mental stimulation while satisfying cats’ innate instincts to hunt and play. Such toys can help prevent behavioral problems such as aggression or anxiety while improving cognitive function, reducing stress and anxiety, and preventing obesity by encouraging exercise.

The possibilities of toys you can provide for your cat are endless. You can opt for scratching posts, interactive puzzles, feather wands, or even DIY toys made from household items such as cardboard boxes or paper bags. Keep things fresh by rotating their toys, hiding treats around the house for your cat to discover.

Different Types of Scratching Surfaces for Cats

Without them, cats may resort to scratching up inappropriate items like paper or furniture. Thankfully, there is a wide variety of scratching surfaces available on the market to cater to every cat’s preferences.

Corrugated Cardboard Scratchers

Corrugated cardboard scratchers are an affordable and effective option for satisfying a cat’s scratching needs. The texture of the cardboard provides a satisfying surface for cats to sink their claws into, and some even come with catnip to make them more enticing. These scratchers come in different shapes and sizes, making them suitable for cats of all sizes.

Sisal Rope Scratching Posts

Sisal rope posts are perfect for cats who love to scratch aggressively. The rough texture of sisal mimics natural tree bark, which is a preferred scratching surface for cats in the wild. These posts come in various sizes and shapes, and some even have additional features like perches or hiding spots.

Wooden Scratching Posts

For cats who prefer a more natural feel, wooden scratching posts are an excellent option. They are sturdy, durable, and often come with replaceable sisal rope or carpeted surfaces for scratching. In addition to providing a designated scratching area, they can also add an elegant touch to your home decor.

Carpeted Scratching Posts and Pads

Carpeted scratching posts and pads are ideal for cats who enjoy scratching on soft surfaces. However, it’s essential to note that carpeted surfaces may not be as durable as other options and may need to be replaced more frequently.

Wall-Mounted Scratchers and Furniture

If you’re short on space, wall-mounted scratchers or furniture that doubles as a scratching post can be an excellent option. These options provide a designated scratching area while also saving space in your home.

Ultimately, it’s crucial to experiment with different types of scratching surfaces to find what your cat likes best. Providing a variety of options not only keeps your cat happy but also protects your furniture from being damaged by their claws.

How to Deter Your Cat from Scratching Paper

Cats are notorious for their love of scratching, but when they start scratching up your paper, it can be frustrating and even damaging. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to deter your cat from this behavior.

Give Your Cat an Alternative Scratching Surface

Providing your cat with an alternative scratching surface is one of the most effective ways to deter them from scratching paper. This could be a scratching post or pad made from materials that your cat enjoys, such as sisal or carpet. Encourage your cat to use these surfaces instead of paper by placing them in areas where your cat likes to scratch.

Make the Paper Less Appealing

Another option is to make the paper less appealing to your cat. You can achieve this by using double-sided tape or aluminum foil on the paper surface. Cats generally do not like the feel of these materials on their paws and will be less likely to scratch on them. You can also try spraying a citrus-scented spray on the paper, as cats are known to dislike the smell of citrus.

Use Deterrent Sprays or Scents

Deterrent sprays or scents can be effective in deterring your cat from scratching paper. You can try using sprays or scents that cats dislike, such as citrus or lavender. However, it’s important to note that these sprays should not be used directly on your cat or on any surfaces that your cat may come into contact with.

Reinforce Positive Behavior

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool in deterring your cat from scratching paper. Whenever you see your cat using an appropriate scratching surface, praise and reward them with treats or toys. Over time, your cat will learn that this behavior is preferred and will be less likely to scratch up your paper.

Avoid Punishing Your Cat

It’s essential to avoid punishing your cat for scratching on paper. Cats don’t understand punishment in the same way that humans do, and it can lead to anxiety and stress. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement by rewarding your cat when they use an appropriate scratching surface.

Training Your Cat Not to Scratch Paper

With a little bit of patience and persistence, you can train your cat not to scratch paper.

Firstly, it’s important to understand why cats scratch in the first place. Scratching is a natural behavior that helps them to mark their territory, stretch their muscles, and keep their claws healthy. So instead of punishing them for doing what comes naturally, provide them with alternative surfaces to scratch on.

Invest in several scratching posts or pads made from different materials such as carpet, sisal rope, or cardboard. Cats love to scratch on different textures, so offering variety will increase the chances of them using the scratching post instead of the paper. Place them in areas where your cat likes to scratch the most, like near their favorite sleeping spot or in front of a window. By doing this, they will have an appropriate and satisfying place to scratch.

Another effective method is using deterrents. Cats hate sticky textures like double-sided tape or aluminum foil. Place these materials on the areas where your cat likes to scratch paper to discourage them from doing so. You can also use a citrus spray or commercial cat repellent spray on the paper to make it less appealing.

Positive reinforcement is key when training your cat not to scratch paper. Reward your cat with treats or praise every time they use the scratching post instead of the paper. This will encourage and reinforce the behavior you want.

Remember that consistency is crucial when training your cat. Be patient and persistent, and don’t give up if it doesn’t happen right away. Cats are creatures of habit, so repeating the same routine over time will help establish good behavior.

Alternatives to Scratching Paper for Cats

Not only does it create a mess, but it can also cause damage to important documents. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives to scratching paper that cat owners can provide for their furry friends.

One effective solution is to invest in a scratching post or pad made of materials that cats find appealing to scratch. Sisal rope and cardboard are great options as they mimic the texture of tree bark, which is a common scratching surface for cats in the wild. There are various sizes and shapes of scratching posts available, some with added toys or hiding spots to make them even more enticing for cats.

If your cat still insists on scratching unwanted surfaces, try using double-sided tape or sticky pads. These surfaces discourage cats from scratching in inappropriate places and redirect them to more appropriate scratching surfaces.

Regularly trimming your cat’s nails can also help reduce the urge to scratch. Ensure that you use the proper tools and do it carefully to avoid injuring your cat.

In addition, providing plenty of mental and physical stimulation for your cat can reduce their need to scratch on paper or other unwanted surfaces. Interactive toys and puzzle feeders, along with regular playtime with their owners, can keep cats entertained and satisfied.


In conclusion, cats scratch paper for a variety of reasons.

It could be to sharpen their claws, mark their territory, or simply relieve stress and boredom. Whatever the reason may be, it’s important to provide them with appropriate scratching surfaces such as scratching posts or cardboard boxes.

Additionally, training your cat to use these designated areas can help prevent damage to your furniture and other household items.