Fisters’ Journey - The noble art of scratching

Cats are such loveable cuddly creatures aren’t they! Usually mild and gentle, and as domestic pets, no great problem. But sometimes (quite often actually!), I get reminded of the fact that they are actually natural predators, and one of natures most efficient hunters and killers. If cats were the size of large dogs, I’m sure mankind would never have been able to domesticate them. We’d more likely have ended up as their evening meal.
There are certain instinctive traits left over from their wild ancestry which can be annoying though, and with Fister the biggest problem is scratching things and “pounding” (kneading?).

That feels soooo good!

When he lived down in his yard, Fister had his own little special tree trunk that he would “sharpen” his claws on. It was a regular occurence, and always the very first thing that he just had to do when he returned to the yard from a visit to our flat. There are probably various reasons for this, it surely helps the growth of his claws in some way, and also defines territory for him. Up in our flat he decided that his favourite chair was the place for him to practice this black art.

OK - it’s yours now!

Shouting and hissing and chasing him around had no effect of course, so we accepted the fact that our old arm chair was the first victim of his presence. He still uses it, but seems to realise we don’t approve, although we’ve accepted it, so nowadays he does it sort of “carefully” and stops instantly if we complain. We have tried a couple of commercial scratching posts, but he never showed any interest in them.
Luckily, the only other place he enjoys this natural activity is by attacking our nice thick rugs, which don’t suffer any visible damage. Every time, after sleeping or eating, it’s out into the corridor or living room for a good stretch and a jolly good scratch!

Can’t you understand my problem?

There was a period when we had considerable problems although this, we realised rather late, was our own fault. He was beginning to get problems with his bladder, and was having a hard time getting the message into our thick human heads. So the only solution he could find was to SCRATCH! This he began to do with great efficiency, and suddenly, within a few days, he had destroyed most of the wallpaper in our corridor. Associating this with his litter tray, we finally got the message, and started the long dramatic series of operations on his plumbing. The scratching has stopped, and his plumbing repaired, so perhaps we’d better re-paper the corridor soon!
The other instinctive habit that he can’t forget is pounding or kneading. This apparently derives from kittenhood when nursing with his mum. I’m sure he does it to show affection, but it is really annoying sometimes. I’ve had cats before that loved sitting on my lap, and usually my knees ended up looking like an overworked pin cushion. Fister doesn’t sit on laps, but when up in our bed, he often goes all soppy on us, and pounds away at anything in sight, while going into what I call “power purring” mode. He is practically unstoppable, and I’m beginning to get a collection of lovely red scars all over my upper arms. That doesn’t cost anything, but our expensive goose down duvets are having a rough time. As most of us are now aware, Fister is endowed with a lovely set of super sharp long claws, and he has certainly never hesitated to use them.

Here’s something to get my claws into!

I can’t really see any solution to the problem, he gets really sad and disappointed if we try to stop him. He’s only trying to show his love and admiration for us, but $200 down comforters are a bit much to expend every couple of months. I’ve tried putting bits of tough cloth down for him, but he just moves away from them immediately. Because that’s not the point is it? He’s just trying to show how much he LOVES US isn’t he!
There’s absolutely no chance that we will ever de-claw him. No way, ever. We’ve taken the responsibility for him, so we have to learn to live with it.

Another interesting experience was watching his coat acclimatise to life in a warm apartment. As a kitten in his back yard, he would develop a wonderful thick winter coat to ward off the cold (… and what a great TAIL he had!). This meant of course that he had to shed it in the spring and summer. The first couple of years actually living with us were a nightmare of flying fur. Thank goodness we’re not allergic! It was hairs on and in everything, and I mean everything. Hairs in our food, hairs in our eyes, hairs up our nose, hairs in our suitcases when we arrived on holiday in some exotic clime. There was just nowhere those little hairs couldn’t get to. We always had a little reminder from Fister with us when we travelled. When he hopped down from the windowsill in the sunlight he would create a wonderful great cloud of downy particles, sort of like the pixie dust in Peter Pan. But now he’s developed an “indoor” coat, and the problem has more or less disappeared.

I’m sure we can hear more tales of such behaviour from our “massive cat family” owners on Pet Talk!