This is a question that I get quite regularly as a ranger. Therefore, I decided to shed some light on the topic.

Scratching their claws on trees is typical of most cats and is done for various reasons. They do this in order to keep their claws sharp so that hunting and tearing skin and meat off of their prey will be an easy task. Scratching the trees also keeps the claws clean and free from infection. In addition to this, it could also be a means of stretching the ligaments surrounding the claws in order to allow for maximum flexibility.

Cats also have an inter-digital gland that, when they scratch the trees, releases a substance. This leaves a scent that other cats and/or animals can pick up so that they are aware of their presence.

Freedom – Kapama River Lodge