Kitty Claws are Good!
Cats have sharp claws – that is a fact of life and it’s a good thing too. Those claws are essential to a cat’s survival and well-being and allow your kitty to express her inner cheetah. Scratching provides your cat with exercise and necessary upper-body stretching, sharpens her claws and keeps the nails healthy. She also marks her territory through the scent glands located in the pads behind each claw on your cat’s paws. Declawing a cat is strongly opposed by most veterinarians and most, if not all, major animal welfare organizations, including PETA, the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States. The declawing operation is akin to cutting off your own fingers at the first knuckle
Humane Shredding Prevention Tips
So, given that declawing is not a viable option for most cat parents and that scratching is part of who your cat is and is vital to her health, how do you prevent your feline fur baby from destroying your furniture, curtains, carpets and anything else she can sink her claws into? Here are some handy – and humane – techniques:
- Trim the Nails: The most obvious solution is to simply trim your cat’s nails. I know, I know, you think she will use YOU as a scratching post if you try to trim her nails. Believe it or not, trimming is simpler than you’d think. Here’s how you do it:
- Use a cat nail trimmer or scissors or your own nail clippers.
- Get your cat comfortable on your lap or wait until your kitty is napping and gently take her paw in your hand and press on each toe pad to make the nail protrude out.
- Quickly snip off the tip of the nail. By snipping just the sharp tip off you won’t risk hitting the quick (the blood supply to the nail).
- If your cat starts to get anxious about the process, just do one paw – or one nail – at a time and then wait until the next day or the next time kitty is napping next to you on the couch.
- Don’t make a big deal out of the experience – approach it calmly and do it on a regular basis and your cat will take it in stride.
- Give your cat a treat or attention of some other positive ‘reward’ each time you trim her nails so that she creates a positive association with the experience.
- Don’t trim her nails more than once a month – you don’t want her to start thinking that each time she falls asleep or cuddles with you she’s going to get a nail-trimming.
- Scratching post: Give your cat a good, sturdy, attractive scratching alternative to the couch, the bed or your favorite chair. Here are some scratching post basics:
- Be patient and LOVE your cat. Eventually she will understand where her approved scratching areas and objects are. If you are telling her not to scratch the couch then you need to also tell her where she is allowed to scratch and give her that alternative.
- Determine where your cat is currently tempted to scratch and place a scratching post nearby. In other words, if she likes your couch arms, put a scratching post next to the current object of her claw attention. Remember that scratching is part of your cat’s territorial instinct so the “where” is very important.
- Have multiple, strategically located scratching posts. They will probably be where you spend most of your time – and leave most of your ‘scent’. For most people this will be the couch, a favorite chair or the bed.
- Figure out what your cat likes to scratch and get a scratching post with that type of material. There are lots of different kinds of scratching posts so it may take a few tries to get the right one.
- You can easily build your own scratching post by following one of the many YouTube videos on the subject.
- Be sure the post has a wide, sturdy base to prevent it from wobbling around when your cat is stretched out and scratching away. If the post is unsteady, your cat will go right back to scratching your couch.
- Soft Claws: Similar to nail polish, these products are adhesive vinyl nail tips which generally last for about a month before you have to re-apply due to nail growth. Soft Claws is one brand but there are lots of products out there which consist of vinyl nail tips. Use these products for indoor cats only and as a last resort if nothing else works because you still want your cat to be able to scratch where appropriate.
- Attention Redirect: Redirect your naturally curious feline’s attention from the couch or chair arm to other toys she can attack, including stuffed animals/birds, games with a motion component and interactive toys which cater to your cat’s natural curiosity. Here is our very own Pizootz with one of his favorite toys and scratching surfaces.
- Deter: Put double sided tape on your furniture where your cat likes to scratch or an herbal spray deterrent and put a scratching post or other distraction right next to spot you’ve just told them they can’t scratch.
Bottom Line: Scratching is a healthy and necessary part of your cat’s life so set her up for success by giving her acceptable alternatives to your furniture, carpet and drapes and minimizing the damage with periodic nail trimming. This is one of those situations where, with a little effort and patience, you can create a win-win for peaceful humans-feline coexistence.
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