Objectives: The objective of this study was to determine kitten preferences towards different scratchers and the effects of catnip and cat odor on kitten scratching behaviors. Methods: Two-choice preference tests were conducted to compare scratchers and preferred scratchers with or without additives (ie, catnip, catnip oil, cat hair) in six studies. Kittens (n = 40, <8 weeks old) had access to two scratchers on the floor of a simulated living room for 20 mins and interactions were video-recorded. The time each kitten spent scratching each scratcher was compared. Results: In study 1, the S-shaped cardboard was preferred over a hemp post with a toy on top, and no difference was observed in the other pairs of scratchers compared. In study 2, the S-shaped cardboard was preferred by kittens compared with a raised scratcher covered with window screen or with carpet, and no differences were observed between the latter two scratchers. In study 3, the scratcher covered with window screen set upright was preferred over the same scratcher laid horizontally on the floor. The S-shaped cardboard was preferred over the scratcher covered with bubble wrap. In study 4, kittens preferred the S-shaped cardboard over the scratchers covered with window screen or short-fiber carpet but not over the scratcher covered with long-fiber carpet. In study 5, the S-shaped cardboard was strongly preferred over the long cardboard and rectangular cardboard but not over the boat-shaped cardboard. In study 6, dried catnip plant, catnip oil spray or the hair from other cats did not alter the scratching behavior exhibited by the kittens vs the control S-shaped cardboard alone. Conclusions and relevance: The S-shaped cardboard scratcher was a preferred scratcher for kittens. Catnip or odor of other cats did not alter this behavior in kittens. S-shaped cardboard may be a preferred scratching device for kittens.
- problematic behavior
- scratching behavior