HomeCat BehaviourWhy Do Cat Scratches Itch? Understand Your Feline's Touch

Why Do Cat Scratches Itch? Understand Your Feline’s Touch


Cat scratches can be itchy, causing discomfort for both cats and their owners. Understanding why cat scratches itch is crucial for providing appropriate care and preventing further irritation. By delving into the science behind cat scratching behavior and exploring the potential causes of itching, cat owners can gain valuable insights to manage and alleviate this common issue.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding the science behind cat scratching behavior can help manage itching caused by cat scratches.
  • Cats use pheromones released from special glands to communicate and mark their territory, which can lead to itching for humans.
  • Prevention strategies, such as providing appropriate scratching surfaces and redirecting destructive scratching, can reduce itching from cat scratches.
  • Itching can occur due to skin barrier disruption, routine skin healing, bacterial infection, or cat allergies.
  • Cat scratches can sometimes lead to infections or diseases, requiring appropriate medical care.

The Role of Pheromones in Cat-Scratching Behavior

Understanding the role of pheromones in cat scratching behavior is key to comprehending why cat scratches can cause itching for humans. Pheromones are chemical messages released by cats from special glands on their chin, lower ears, forehead, and paws. These pheromones play a crucial role in communication and marking territory.

Interdigital Glands and Marking Territory

Caused By Cat

Cats have interdigital glands located between the pads of their paws. When a cat scratches an object, these glands release pheromones onto the surface, which helps the cat mark their territory. This marking behavior is a form of communication among cats and can help establish a sense of security and familiarity in their environment.

However, it can lead to itching when humans contact these pheromones. The sensitivity of human skin to cat pheromones varies from person to person, but it is not uncommon for individuals to experience discomfort or itching after being scratched by a cat.

Redirecting Scratching Behavior

To prevent itching caused by cat scratches, cat owners can redirect their feline companions’ scratching behavior to appropriate surfaces. Providing cats with scratching posts made of materials that appeal to them, such as sisal or cardboard, can help satisfy their natural instinct to scratch while minimizing damage to furniture and other belongings.

Additionally, using products like Feliway, which contains synthetic facial pheromones that mimic the natural pheromones released by cats, can help encourage scratching in the desired areas. By redirecting their scratching behavior, cat owners can minimize itching caused by cat scratches and maintain a harmonious living environment.

Key PointsBenefits
Understanding pheromones in cat scratching behaviorAllows cat owners to comprehend why cat scratches can cause itching
Interdigital glands and marking territoryExplains how cats use pheromones to communicate and establish territory
Redirecting scratching behaviorProvides strategies for cat owners to prevent itching caused by scratches

Prevention Strategies for Cat Scratching-Related Itching

When it comes to preventing itching caused by cat scratches, there are several strategies that cat owners can adopt. These strategies focus on redirecting scratching behavior to appropriate surfaces and reducing damage to human skin. Here are some effective prevention techniques:

Provide a Scratching Post

Providing a scratching post is one of the most important steps in preventing itching from cat scratches. A scratching post offers cats a designated area to scratch and helps satisfy their natural instincts. Choose a tall post for your cat to stretch fully and sturdy enough to withstand scratching. Place the post near areas where your cat spends the most time, such as their favorite sleeping spots.

Redirect Scratching Behavior

If your cat tends to scratch furniture or other inappropriate surfaces, it’s essential to redirect their scratching behavior. Use positive reinforcement by rewarding your cat with treats or praise when they scratch the designated post. You can also try different materials like cardboard, sisal rope, or carpet to see what appeals most to your cat’s preferences. Additionally, using deterrents like sticky tape on furniture can discourage cats from scratching in undesirable areas.

Trim Your Cat’s Nails

Regular nail trims can help reduce the damage caused by cat scratches. Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed can minimize the chances of deep scratches that lead to itching and discomfort. If you are unsure how to trim your cat’s nails properly, consult your veterinarian or a professional groomer.

Use Products to Encourage Appropriate Scratching

Why Do Cat Scratches Itch? Understand Your Feline'S Touch

There are various products available that can help encourage appropriate scratching behavior in cats. Soft Paws are plastic nail caps that can be applied to your cat’s claws to prevent scratching. These caps are safe and non-toxic. Feliway and Feliscratch are pheromone-based products that can help attract cats to appropriate scratching surfaces. These products mimic the natural pheromones cats use to mark their territory and communicate. Using these products can make the scratching post more appealing to your cat.

Prevention Strategies for Cat Scratching-Related ItchingDescription
Provide a Scratching PostOffer a designated area for scratching that satisfies your cat’s natural instincts.
Redirect Scratching BehaviorUse positive reinforcement and deterrents to guide your cat towards appropriate scratching surfaces.
Trim Your Cat’s NailsRegular nail trims can reduce the damage caused by cat scratches.
Use Products to Encourage Appropriate ScratchingProducts like Soft Paws, Feliway, and Feliscratch can help redirect and attract cats to appropriate scratching surfaces.

Cat Scratches and Itching: Understanding Common Reasons

Cat scratches can cause itching for several reasons. Understanding the underlying causes can help cat owners better manage and alleviate discomfort. In some cases, cat scratches disrupt the skin barrier, triggering the release of inflammatory molecules that lead to itching. Additionally, itching can be a normal part of the skin healing process, as the body’s immune response can cause mild inflammation and discomfort.

Bacterial infection is another common cause of itching from cat scratches. When a scratch breaks the skin, bacteria from the cat’s claws or surrounding environment can enter the wound and cause an infection. Symptoms may include increased redness, swelling, warmth around the scratch, and worsening itching.

For individuals with allergies to cats, cat scratches can exacerbate itching. The cat’s saliva, dander, or urine can contain allergens that trigger an allergic reaction when they come into contact with the skin. This can intensify the itching sensation and cause additional allergic symptoms, such as sneezing, watery eyes, or a rash.

Table: Common Reasons for Itching from Cat Scratches

Skin barrier disruptionScratches can disrupt the skin’s protective barrier, leading to the release of inflammatory molecules and itching.
Normal part of skin healingAs the skin heals from a scratch, the body’s immune response can cause mild inflammation and itching.
Bacterial infectionWhen bacteria enter a scratch wound, it can lead to infection, causing redness, swelling, warmth, and increased itching.
Allergy to catsFor individuals with cat allergies, cat scratches can worsen itching and trigger allergic symptoms.

Cat Scratches and Health Risks: Recognizing Potential Infections or Diseases

Why Do Cat Scratches Itch? Understand Your Feline'S Touch

Cat scratches, although usually harmless, can sometimes lead to infections or diseases. Cat owners need to be aware of these potential health risks and recognize their associated symptoms. In this section, we will explore some of the common infections and diseases that can result from cat scratches and how they can cause itching.


Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that can occur when bacteria enter the body through a cat scratch. Symptoms of cellulitis include redness, swelling, pain, and warmth around the affected area. In some cases, itching may also be present. It’s important to seek medical attention if you suspect cellulitis to prevent the infection from spreading.

Cat Scratch Disease

Cat scratch disease, caused by the bacteria Bartonella henselae, is another potential health risk associated with cat scratches. Symptoms of cat scratch disease may include fever, fatigue, headache, and swollen lymph nodes. In some cases, it can also cause itching at the scratch site. If you experience these symptoms after a cat scratch, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Ringworm and Tetanus

In addition to cellulitis and cat scratch disease, cat scratches can also transmit other infections like ringworm and tetanus. Ringworm is a fungal infection characterized by red, itchy, and scaly patches on the skin. It can be transmitted through cat scratches. Tetanus, conversely, is a bacterial infection that can enter the body through deep wounds, including those caused by cat scratches. It can lead to muscle stiffness, spasms, and difficulty swallowing.

Infection or DiseaseSymptoms
CellulitisRedness, swelling, pain, warmth, itching
Cat Scratch DiseaseFever, fatigue, headache, swollen lymph nodes, itching
RingwormRed, itchy, and scaly patches on the skin
TetanusMuscle stiffness, spasms, difficulty swallowing

If you experience persistent itching or notice any concerning symptoms after a cat scratch, it is crucial to seek medical advice. Prompt medical attention can help diagnose and treat any potential infections or diseases and prevent complications.

How can I prevent my cat from scratching walls and furniture?

To prevent your cat from scratching walls and furniture, try trimming their nails regularly and providing scratching posts or pads as an alternative. Use deterrent sprays on the areas they’re targeting and consider covering the furniture with double-sided tape. For existing damage, consider fixing cat scratches wall with a repair kit.

Allergies and Cat Scratches: Managing Itching for Allergic Individuals

Cat scratches can exacerbate itching and discomfort for individuals who are allergic to cats. Understanding how to manage these allergies to minimize symptoms and maintain a harmonious relationship with your feline friend is important. Here are some strategies to help reduce itching caused by cat scratches:

1. Wash Hands and Clothes

After interacting with your cat or being scratched, washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water is crucial to remove any allergens that may cause itching. Additionally, changing your clothes and washing them promptly can help prevent allergens from clinging to fabric and triggering an allergic reaction.

2. Take Antihistamine Medication

Antihistamines are commonly used to manage allergy symptoms, including itching. Consult your healthcare provider to determine the most suitable antihistamine medication for your allergy. Taking antihistamines as prescribed can help alleviate itching caused by cat scratches.

3. Minimize Exposure

Reducing your exposure to cat allergens can significantly decrease itching. Consider creating a cat-free zone or using air purifiers with HEPA filters to remove allergens from the air. Regularly cleaning and vacuuming your home can also help reduce allergic responses.

Allergy SymptomsReducing Allergy Symptoms
SneezingAvoid contact with cats, use air purifiers, and take antihistamines.
Runny or Stuffy NoseMinimize exposure to cat allergens and use nasal sprays recommended by your healthcare provider.
Itchy and Watery EyesKeep cats out of bedrooms, use allergen-proof bedding, and apply cool compresses to soothe irritated eyes.
Skin Rash or HivesApply over-the-counter or prescribed corticosteroid creams to calm the skin and avoid scratching.

By implementing these measures, individuals with cat allergies can effectively manage itching caused by cat scratches and enjoy their feline companionship without constant discomfort.


Understanding why cat scratches itch is crucial for cat owners to properly care for their feline companions and prevent discomfort for themselves. By gaining insights into feline behavior and the potential causes of itching, cat owners can take proactive measures to manage and minimize the itching sensation caused by cat scratches.

Prevention strategies play a key role in mitigating itching from cat scratches. Providing cats with appropriate scratching surfaces, such as scratching posts, and redirecting their scratching behavior to these surfaces can significantly reduce damage to furniture and other belongings. Additionally, using deterrents like sticky tape and trimming cats’ nails can help prevent excessive scratching and consequent itching.

Furthermore, addressing potential health risks associated with cat scratches is important. Infections and diseases, such as cellulitis, cat scratch disease, ringworm, and tetanus, can worsen itching and require medical attention. Cat owners should be vigilant and seek appropriate care if they notice any signs of infection or disease.

Managing itching caused by cat scratches requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses understanding feline behavior, implementing prevention strategies, and addressing potential health risks. By doing so, cat owners can ensure a harmonious and comfortable environment for both themselves and their beloved feline companions.


Why do cat scratches cause itching?

Cat scratches can cause itching for various reasons. Itching can occur due to disruption of the skin barrier, release of inflammatory molecules, or as a normal part of the skin healing process. In some cases, bacterial infection or allergies to cats can worsen the itching sensation.

How can I prevent itching from cat scratches?

To prevent itching from cat scratches, you can provide appropriate scratching surfaces like scratching posts, try different materials to find what appeals to your cat, use deterrents like sticky tape on furniture, keep your cat’s nails trimmed, and use products like Feliway and Feliscratch to encourage appropriate scratching behavior.

Can cat scratches lead to infections or diseases?

Yes, cat scratches can sometimes lead to infections or diseases. Conditions like cellulitis, cat scratch disease (caused by Bartonella henselae), ringworm, and tetanus can all cause itching as a symptom. It is important to be aware of these risks and seek appropriate medical care if needed.

How can I manage itching from cat scratches if I have allergies to cats?

If you have allergies to cats, you may experience heightened itching from cat scratches. To manage itching and other allergy symptoms, it is recommended to wash your hands and clothes after interacting with cats, take antihistamine medication as directed by a healthcare professional, and manage your allergies with appropriate measures.

Why is understanding why cat scratches itch important?

Understanding why cat scratches itch is essential for cat owners to provide appropriate care for their feline companions and prevent discomfort for themselves. By incorporating prevention strategies and addressing potential health risks, cat owners can effectively manage itching caused by cat scratches.


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Iftekhar Ahmed
Iftekhar Ahmedhttps://thecatcorners.com
Hello there, I am Iftekhar Ahmed. I am the owner of Mishka & The Cat Corners. I love to explore and write on various topics about cats

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