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Addressing Destructive Feline Scratching Behavior

Clinician's Brief (Capsule)


|February 2014

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Scratching behavior, normal in cats and exhibited as early as 5 weeks of age, serves many functions: claw sharpening, maintaining the system that allows for claw extension and withdrawal, territorial marking, and immediate- and long-term social communication. Feline interdigital semiochemical (FIS) is a synthetic mixture of fatty acids that represent the natural components of a natural pheromone in sebaceous gland secretions from the plantar pad complex in cats. In this trial, 19 cats were provided with either a treated or untreated scratching post, and their behavior was video-recorded. The FIS-treated scratching post was scratched more in duration and frequency than the untreated post.


Inappropriate scratching is a common concern expressed by cat owners. Declawing is controversial, if not illegal, and should not be the first-choice recommendation to address feline scratching behavior. A product that mimics FIS to induce scratching behavior on appropriate items would be beneficial to establish good habits in new feline additions to a household and for retraining of cats with undesirable scratching habits. It would likely need to be used as an adjunct to traditional strategies, much as other feline and canine pheromone products are used.—Elizabeth Layne, DVM


Induction of scratching behaviour in cats: Efficacy of synthetic feline interdigital semiochemical. Cozzi A, Lecuelle CL, Monneret P, et al. J FELINE MED SURG 15:872-878, 2013.

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