While it can be frustrating when your cat scratches on your furniture, did you know that scratching is a natural behavior that is necessary for cats to be healthy? It helps to remove the outer sheaths of their nails, it’s good exercise, it allows them to feel safe by marking their territory, and it relieves stress. Using the following tips, you’ll find easy ways to allow your cat to scratch without damaging your home.
It used to be common for people to declaw their cats, but in recent years more people have become aware of its negative side effects and have decided to go with other options. Did you know that during the surgery, vets don’t just remove a cat’s claws? They actually have to amputate the last bone on each toe of a cat’s paw so that the claws can’t grow back. This often results in chronic pain, aggression, or refusal to use the litter box. Because of this, we don’t perform declaws at our clinic and strongly encourage people to use other methods to deter their cat from scratching in unwanted areas.
Regularly Trim Your Cat’s Nails
It’s important to regularly trim your cat’s nails, not only because it helps to minimize the damage from scratching, but as cats start to age, they are more vulnerable to getting ingrown nails which can start growing into the pads of their paws and become quite painful. For more information on how to trim your cat’s nails, take a look at the video below. (If you have trouble trimming their nails at home, then we welcome you to make an appointment with us, and we’ll be more than happy to do it for you!)
Invest in Scratching Posts
The most important part of training your cat where they aren’t allowed to scratch is to provide them with places where they are allowed to scratch.
We recommend placing a scratching post near all of the spots where your cat usually likes to scratch (i.e. the arms of your couch). Dr. Cornwell’s favorite scratching post is SmartCat’s Ultimate Scratching Post. If your cat prefers to scratch on horizontal surfaces rather than vertical ones, many different kinds of scratching pads are available too. Keep in mind that you may have to try a few before you find what your cat likes the best. You can also try rubbing them with catnip to make them more attractive. In addition to scratching posts/pads, many cats also enjoy cat furniture.
Use Sticky Paws
Sticky Paws is double-sided tape that you can place wherever your cat likes to scratch to deter them from using that spot. In conjunction with scratching posts/pads, it can be a great tool for retraining your cat where to scratch.
Try Soft Paws
Soft Paws are soft, plastic nail caps that are glued over your cat’s nails. These are especially helpful for cats who won’t use acceptable scratching areas like scratching posts. You can apply them yourself or you can make an appointment so we can apply them for you. They usually need to be reapplied every 4 – 6 weeks because they will fall off with the natural growth of your cat’s nails. We recommend that you use these as a last resort if all of the other methods are ineffective.