Claws are a physically, socially, and emotionally vital part of every cat. Scratching, for a cat, is not only a natural act, but a necessary one as well.
- It removes the dead outer sheaths of nail, keeping it sharp and ready for action.
- It is an essential exercise technique which serves to stretch and strengthen their upper bodies.
- Cats mark their territory visually, especially in multi–cat households, as a way of determining rank.
- Between your cat’s toes are scent glands which leave her “signature” when she scratches.
There are many solutions to problem cat scratching that do not involve declawing. Since declawing involves ten separate amputations of the distal phalanx, which is comparable to amputating the last joint of a human finger, alternatives to this drastic and painful procedure should be explored. You can read the American Association of Feline Practitioners statement on declawing HERE.
How to Trim Your Cat’s Nails
Trimming your feline friend’s nails will decrease any damage done to surfaces while they are still learning where to scratch appropriately. If you have a kitten, starting young is the best method. For all cats, expect to go slow. Practice petting paws, extending the nails and massaging the feet. It can be helpful to catch them while they are snoozing, and just clip a nail or three. The ends of the nails are the sharp parts, so just trimming the tips will decrease the leverage and potential for destruction. Using cat specific nail trimmers or human nail trimmers are both fine, as long as they are sharp. Dull edges will splinter or crush the nails.
Soft Paws Nail Caps for Cats
Developed by a Lafayette area veterinarian, Soft Paws are nail caps that look like a cat’s nail, but are hollow inside. The nail caps easily fit over the cat’s nail and are secured with a safe, non-toxic adhesive. The nail caps effectively blunt the claws so that when a cat scratches, damage to furniture or skin is avoided. The nail caps stay on for about four to six weeks and fall off with the natural growth of the cat’s nails. They are usually tolerated well. Some cats will chew at them at first, and get some of the nail caps off sooner, but these are easily replaced at home. Nail caps are most successful when combined with suitable scratchers, and environmental enrichment.
Cat Scratching Posts
Cats will always scratch; it is in their nature. The key is to provide your cat with a post that he/she prefers over your furniture.
What to look for in a scratching post.
- Height. The post needs to be tall enough for your cat to stretch and extend in order to get a full and satisfying scratch.
- Stability. The post must be stable. If it wobbles, your cat won’t like it, and if it topples over your cat won’t want to get near it again. Watch a cat scratch — they hunker down and scratch and pull with such vigor that they need a stable surface to suit their scratching needs.
- Material. Finding the material your cat likes can involve experimenting with sisal rope or fabric, cardboard, lumber and even logs.
- Location. Where you place the scratcher is vital to getting him to use it. A scratcher placed in a prominent living space area, or near entrances will be most successful. Why? Because one of the reasons cats scratch is to mark their territory, so the post has to be in the places your cat likes to be.
Low tack double-sided tape is sticky on both sides and easily found in stores or online shops like Amazon. Simply apply it to the objects you would prefer your cat not scratch on, and his natural aversion to stickiness will put an end to the offending behavior. The tape works as an aversion tool, but you still need to provide a place for kitty to scratch.
Feliway is a synthetic analogue of the feline facial pheromone — sounds confusing, but it is really quite simple. Have you seen cats rubbing their cheeks on an object? What they are doing is depositing some of this facial pheromone on the object and marking it as theirs. This feline facial pheromone can also be thought of as a feel good pheromone, meaning cats sense this pheromone and it has a calming effect.
Cats are territorial by nature, and like to mark their territory boundaries. Scratching is one of the ways kitties do this. Not only does scratching provide a visual sign of the territory (shredded material), but also the scent glands on the bottom of their paw pads leave a scent for other cats.
Find more resources HERE.