Although Ragdolls are quite large cats they are well known for having gentle natures. That said they are still cats equipped with sharp claws and we all know the damage these can inflict.
Are Ragdoll cats destructive? The docile-natured Ragdoll does not have a destructive nature. Of course, as with most cats, there will always be the odd exception. A Ragdoll is capable of having mad moments where it suddenly scratches destructively at furniture or carpets.
A Ragdoll has sharp claws that can easily inflict irreversible damage. It’s a good idea to buy a scratching post and encourage your Ragdoll to use it using positive reinforcement techniques. A bored Ragdoll could still resort to scratching other things so ensure you provide a stimulating environment with plenty of space for it to exert its energy.
Why Ragdolls Scratch Things
Ragdolls aren’t really vandals. When one stretches up to claw at something several things happen, all of them important to your Ragdolls health and mental well being.
- Essential claw maintenance – Like our fingernails, a cat’s claws grow continuously. It must regularly shed old, blunt outer layers to reveal new sharp claws. Though the act of scratching is commonly referred to as ‘sharpening their claws’ its actually revealing new claws.
- Flexing muscles and ligaments – When a Ragdoll scratches things, it lengthens its front legs from the shoulders to the tips of its paws. This keeps all muscles and ligaments in this area supple and strong.
- Visible marking of territory – The scratches a cat makes are a visible warning to any other cats that pass by that this is your Ragdoll’s territory.
- Scent marking – Nothing makes a cat feel more secure and happy than being surrounded by the scent markers it deposits as it scratches things.
Things a Ragdoll Could Destroy Through Scratching
Ragdolls might scratch all sorts of things. Some prefer fabrics and others love wood. They like a surface that they can get a good grip on with their claws.
This list is not exhaustive – there are bound to be things you could add:
- Carpet – It’s as if these were designed with cats in mind! We have tried numerous types and our cats have loved clawing every type.
- Table legs – These are so tempting and I guess it’s because they feel like a tree trunk which is what cats scratch at the most in the great outdoors.
- Curtains – These are particularly fun to claw, climb and swing on.
- Your couch – Fabric is perfect to dig claws into. Cats usually prefer the corners at the back where they can get a good stretch. If yours is leather, you may notice your cat will find any stitched areas to dig in to.
- Doors – A Ragdoll will scratch a door it wants to be opened.
- Music Speakers – Some have soft fabric covers and some have plastic mesh.
- Hanging clothes – Beware of leaving your closet door open. A cat can swiftly remove everything from the clothes hangers in its attempt to find something to get a good grip on.
- Bath towels – These aren’t the best thing to claw because they slip from the rail too easily. If you find a wet towel on the bathroom floor, before you blame your spouse or the teenagers, bear in mind it might be the cat’s fault.
- Bedclothes – Those embroidered covers are great to get claws stuck in to.
- Other wooden furniture – It’s all irresistible, especially if there are carved areas.
How To Stop Ragdolls Being Destructive
Things To Do
- Prepare your home – Before you bring a Ragdoll home, move whatever you can and cover your couch with a thick blanket.
- Buy these provisions – A cat charmer, cat treats, double-sided sticky tape, catnip spray, a scratching post, tinfoil, and thick plastic sheets might come in handy.
- Train your cat – From day one, watch out for scratching. As soon as you notice it, distract your cat away with the cat charmer recommended above. Lead it to the scratching post. Drag the charmer across the post. Praise your cat and give it a treat if it scratches the post. Persevere with this every day.
- Use catnip – Add a small squirt of catnip spray to your cat’s scratching post to make it more attractive.
- Cover things – Wherever your cat scratches, apply double-sided sticky tape (as long as it won’t ruin the surface.) Cats don’t like the feel of this. Tinfoil is a good deterrent too. Thick polythene sheets can be used to protect carpets. Old blankets can also help.
- Routine – Cats thrive on routine. Make sure you feed yours at the same time every day. This helps to stop the type of scratching that might result from hunger.
- Distraction – This is always a good method. Don’t grab your cat to stop it scratching but do intervene gently with play. If it has the urge to scratch, leading it towards the scratching post is a good idea as it can then fulfill that urge there.
- Give attention – Ragdolls love attention so give yours as much as possible, especially after you’ve been out. This can deter unwanted scratching that results from neglect.
- Play – Engage your cat in play regularly. The more quality time you dedicate to it the less bored it becomes. Excessive scratching is often a result of boredom.
- Exercise – It is important to ensure a Ragdoll gets plenty of exercise every day, especially if it is an indoor cat. Climbing trees, a variety of scratching posts, toys, and laser pointers provide great ways to get your cat moving. The more energy it uses up this way, the less it will be likely to resort to unwanted scratching.
- Trim your cat’s claws carefully – If your Ragdoll is damaging things no matter what you do, you can have the very tips of its claws trimmed to minimize the marks it makes – ask your vet to show you how.
Things Not To Do
- Never shout at your Ragdoll– You will only scare it and it will not associate this with scratching. If your cat becomes scared of you it may resort to scratching more through stress or fear.
- Never punish your Ragdoll– It is never OK to inflict pain on a cat. This amounts to cruelty and will only make it scared and confused, possibly forever. I wouldn’t even recommend the use of a water spray which is what some people suggest.
- Declawing – This is not something you should ever consider. It is a barbaric procedure which amounts to amputating toe joints. If you don’t believe me, do some thorough research and you’ll see it is actually banned in many countries and certain US states for good reason.
Buy or Make Things For Your Ragdoll To Scratch
As you get to know your cat, notice which surfaces it is really fond of scratching. Buy scratching posts covered in similar surfaces. If you can’t find them then either cover some standard posts with those types of surface or make your own posts. This scratching lounger is on my wish list (for my cats obviously.)
Determine if your cat is a horizontal or vertical scratcher and buy posts to suit its style. If your cat loves scratching carpet, use any off-cuts you have on posts. If you ever replace your carpets keep some to add to homemade scratching posts.
What If Your Ragdoll Won’t Stop Being Destructive?
If you have a serial scratcher, you will have to work really hard to determine what the causes are.
- Boredom – Enrich its environment. Get plenty of toys and change them over regularly to keep things interesting. Spend as much time as possible entertaining your Ragdoll through play, petting and generally paying it attention.
- Loneliness – Are you out a lot? Ragdolls are generally happier in pairs. They keep each other company when you’re out and play together too.
- Stress – Many things can cause a cat to feel stressed. Changes to its routine, a new pet and illness are just a few. Relieving the causes of stress can decrease excessive scratching.
- Too few scratching posts – Place a scratching post in front of anything your cat scratches. Do whatever you can to make the thing you don’t want it to scratch hard to get at.
- Couped up – Ragdolls don’t like to be couped up so don’t shut yours in a small space. It needs to use up energy. Ideally, it should be able to roam all over your home and have access to windows where it can see outside. The more your cat can move and the more distractions it is exposed to and the less it is likely to scratch at things.
- Consider creating a safe outside space – If you can give your cat some quality outside time, it could be the cure to excessive scratching. If you can’t make your garden secure then the next best thing is a large enclosure – and I don’t mean an oversized rabbit run! It should have plenty of space, lots of objects to climb and scratch, and a shelter. Ideally, it should be accessible from your home via a catflap.
Other Ways Ragdolls Seem Destructive
I’ve mostly talked about scratching but there are other ways in which Ragdolls can cause havoc in your home.
- Cat zoomies – Now and then a Ragdoll can seem a little crazy. Suddenly and for no obvious reason, it might tear about the house at full speed, skidding around corners, running across tables and thundering up the stairs. They might knock things flying, leaving a mess in their wake. This can sometimes happen in the middle of the night.
- Pushing things over edges – Ragdolls love to do this, so make sure you move fragile objects from shelves, ledges, and tables.
- Chewing plants – Some will nibble at plant leaves, especially those that look like grass. Make sure you check every plant and flower that in your house to ensure it isn’t toxic to cats.
Are Ragdoll Cats Destructive? – Conclusion
Ragdolls are not usually destructive cats but if yours ever is, have a plan of action ready. If you own any cat, you should expect a certain amount of scratching – it goes with the territory and you need to prepare yourself to expect and accept this. Yes, a Ragdoll can be destructive from time to time.