Why Does My Cat Scratch Me? It’s A Full On Assault

Cats scratch because it is a normal behavior for them. Scratching serves many purposes, including removing the dead outer layer of their claws, stretching their muscles, and leaving behind visual markings that are easily seen by other cats.

While cats will scratch children or adults for various reasons, often they are just being too playful. Cats that scratch people can also be showing signs of aggression or fear.

When dealing with your cat’s scratching behavior, the first thing you need to understand is that it’s completely natural. Because cats have been domesticated, scratching behaviors that would have been done in the wild have been transferred to home life, and they don’t always marry well.

No one wants their furniture scratched and it is totally unacceptable to scratch adults or children.

If a child is in fear of being scratched by his beloved pet cat, he or she will actively avoid the cat.

The child will be hurt (both physically and emotionally) and will have no idea why the cat would do such a horrible thing. Children don’t understand that the cat has not taken a dislike to them.

It’s important to find ways to stop this behavior when it’s first noticed. A cat scratch can also lead to other concerns, such as a bacterial infection. This can be quite painful.

cat sitting calmly
I may look calm and in control, but…don’t come too close!

Related: Why do cats sometimes lick and then bite or vice versa? It can catch us off guard!

Here are six common cat scratching problems with a solution for each problem.

1. Cats Swiping At Feet And Ankles

Cats are natural predators, and some will swipe at your feet or ankles as you pass, perhaps a little too closely for your liking. You are a moving target, and if you continue to move away, the cat’s natural instinct will be to pursue and attack.


A solution for this is to move towards the cat. This may confuse the cat as normal prey behavior is to move away as quickly as possible.

2. Cats Swiping When being Petted

Some cats may take a swipe when being patted, particularly on the stomach and chest area. Our cat was very sensitive to touch in these areas.


Avoid petting or unnecessarily touching the stomach and chest area of a cat You will soon know if this is the case for your cat.

Cats typically do not like having their paws or tails touched.

Get to know your cat and the no go areas. Keep the peace.

a kitten playing and showing claws
Watch those claws kitty!

3. Cats Scratching as a Response To Being Afraid

If your cat is already fearful of certain situations, they may claw and scratch when being held. Examples of this would be when the cat sees a foreign cat outside the window in its perceived territory, or when the cat is being disturbed by dogs.


As this is an instant reaction response, it is more difficult to find a solution other than to be aware of other animals in the vicinity.

If your cat scratches the dog in the household, the dog may be encroaching on the cats safe place, such as the cat bed.

This is something you will need to be aware of and supervise.

Providing the cat with a place they can access where the dog cannot go is a possible solution. A Door Buddy is useful in situations like this.

4. Other Stressful Situations For The Cat

Other situations that cannot be avoided may also be stressful for the cat, for example, giving the cat a flea shampoo or giving the cat medicine.


These situations may require two people, one to hold the cat firmly allowing the other person to complete the treatment quickly and without fear of being clawed.

There is information here about how to give your cat a pill (highly recommended reading) and information here about how to give your cat a shampoo to help control fleas, while at the same time avoiding being scratched by the cat.

5. Cat is Scratching The kids

The cat may have a swipe and scratch the kids, even when the kids do know how to treat the cat properly.


Check the circumstances surrounding the lead up to the cat scratch. Perhaps the child needs some instruction or help with handling the cat.

Deal with this patiently. It is your role as a cat owner to show children how to treat the cat.

Kids often play too rough, kids get excited, and often kids, particularly younger kids do not recognize that the cat may be feeling anxious, which may lead to aggression if the rough play is not stopped.

In particular, watch how your child is picking up the cat and don’t allow the cat to be squeezed too tightly by the child, when having a cuddle.

Sometimes though, the cat may just scratch and this is unacceptable.

Cats have different temperaments just like humans. You may need to train your cat not to scratch.

6. The Cat is Scratching When Playing

Don’t encourage your cat to attack your hands by making rapid movements in front of its face. This confuses the cat, which could lead to your hands being bitten or scratched.

Never treat aggressive behavior, like biting or clawing, as if it were play, that’s training for future attacks from the cat.

Remember not to use your hands or even a finger as a toy, as the cat will instinctively pounce.

It is tempting to waggle your finger behind something, like a footstool or coffee table, to get the cat’s attention, but it is not wise long term.


Don’t wave your hands or fingers to encourage the cat to pounce. Invest in some wand toys to play with the cat whilst keeping fingers and hands out of the way.

While you are training the cat to give up scratching people and furniture, putting covers on the cat’s nails will protect the scratchees (the children) and your furniture.

Train The Cat To Stop Scratching

Gently scruff the cat’s neck each time it scratches. This is an effective way of disciplining the animal without hurting it, scruffing actually mimics what a mother cat often does to her kittens.

Simply grab the skin of the animal on its lower neck slightly above the shoulders, and then pin it gently to the floor while saying ‘No’ in a strong tone.
Perform this for about 3 to 4 seconds before releasing the cat, it will definitely remember this lesson and think twice before scratching you again.

If you are not sure about how to scruff the cat, ask your vet to demonstrate the correct method.

Young visitors to your home may want to pick up the cat to give the cat a cuddle, a noble intention, but one that can be a recipe for disaster.

This may result in the child then pursuing the cat, which in turn frightens the cat. The cat will in all likelihood lash out and perhaps scratch out of fear.

If this is going to be an issue either remove the cat for the period of the visit or show the child how to pat the cat without pursuing and frightening the cat. Sadly, sometimes the parents of the child, are quite oblivious to all of this happening. I have been witness to that.

cat with claws extended

Is Your Cat Scratching Because He Is Bored?

Most cats like playing a lot especially kittens. Kittens need to be constantly entertained in order to use their excess energy.

That need for entertainment continues in adult life.

Aim to occupy the cat’s mind with enough playtime by providing cat toys for stimulation and to eliminate boredom.

There are some amazing interactive cat toys that keep the cat entertained. It is fun to watch kitty totally absorbed with a toy.

Rotate the toys frequently so that the cat doesn’t lose interest. Resist the temptation to bring out the laser pointer every day. Sometimes I think I like the laser pointer more than the cat.

See how we solved the cat scratching the furniture problem. The cat was not innocent.

Is The Environment Stimulating For Your Cat?

Does your cat have a scratching post or other cat furniture when he can climb and run and jump and play?

Cats do like to position themselves in high places (to observe the environment and any perceived threats).

A scratching post may also help to save your furniture from being attacked.

Making time to actively play with your cat each day, is another way to provide exercise for the cat, curtail boredom and is fun for everyone.

Kids love using wand toys when playing with a cat. You can make your own wand toy or buy them inexpensively.

Wand toys are also safe for children to use as no small hands will be within scratching reach.

Tell-Tale Signs That The Cat May Be Aggressive

There are certain tell-tale signs to watch out for which show that your cat is about to show aggressive behavior and clawing.

These include: narrowed eyes, growling, skin rippling, shifting of body posture, tail lashing and body posture.

Normal playful behavior may also mean that your cat may crouch but often they will pounce sideways or generally indicate that they are in a playful mood.

First Aid Tips For A Cat Scratch

In the event that you are scratched, there are certain steps you can take to manage the situation so that it doesn’t lead to infection.

  1. First, wash the wound with some soap and warm water or saline solution (purchased from a pharmacy). If the wound continues bleeding apply light pressure using a piece of dry gauze pad.
  2. Next, apply some antiseptic cream directly onto the wound.
  3. Cover with a dry, sterile dressing or a Band Aid. Keep an eye on the wound and if there are any signs of infection see your doctor.

Note: A cat scratch can become infected very easily and become a serious situation. Please get medical advice if you are at all unsure about the seriousness of the scratch.

a hand with cat scratches
Cat scratches!

Cat Nail Caps to discourage scratching

Consider using cat nail caps if cat scratching persists.

A cat nail cap covers the cats nail with soft silicone nail covers.

If you have never heard about cat nail caps, the two articles below go into detail about the pros and cons and how cat nail caps are applied and removed.

Different types of cat nail caps are also discussed so that you can decide what would work best for your cat. See below:

1.Cat Nail Caps – The Pros And Cons

This article lists the pros and cons of using cat nail caps and answers questions people typically have about using cat nail caps and their safety.

Cat nail caps are a lifesaver if your children are being scratched and are afraid of the cat.

Cat nail caps are also a great solution for cats that scratch furniture.

2. What Are The Best Nail Caps?

What are the best nail caps? This article has a good look at the different nail caps available for kittens and cats.

vector - two cats reading
Just in case you are thinking of cat nail caps for my birthday dear, I like pink or purple.
Don't let your cat scratch you - pinterest image

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