When a cat is declawed, the nail and part of the cat’s toes are amputated. This surgical process can be very painful for your cat and could permanently alter your cat’s behavior. Declawing your cat is not a necessary procedure and there are ways to live harmoniously with your cat and her claws.
Scratching is a normal and necessary behavior for your cat. A cat’s claws serve several important purposes other than just to defend itself and hunt its prey. A cat uses its claws for communication, scratching inanimate objects to mark its territory. A cat also scratches in efforts to stretch out its entire body from head to toe. Remember, cats are not capable of spite and are not trying to upset you by scratching your nice furniture. Destructive clawing is almost always correctable. By providing your cat with proper care and environmental enrichment, you should provide the following:
Trim your cat’s nails regularly. Regularly clipping your cat’s nails will help them stay blunt and less likely to harm your skin or furniture.
Provide you cat with an appropriate amount of necessary resources. Many cats scratch due to stress and anxiety, which are often a response to being deprived of necessary care and resources. Make sure you cat is provided with all of the following:
Resting or sleeping area
Provide your cat with a variety of scratchers around the house. When it comes to cat scratchers, size, texture, and location are key.
- Size and Shape: Provide a scratching post that is taller than your cat’s body length. This will allow them to stretch out completely and give a good scratch. It should also be sturdy enough to not topple over when scratched. Most cats prefer vertical surfaces but some do opt for horizontal scratching pads or boxes.
- Texture: When it comes to texture, most cats prefer sisal rope, corrugated cardboard, or carpet on their scratching post. Providing your cat with a variety of textures will prevent your cat from losing interest and therefore deviating to more undesirable objects such as your furniture.
- Location: As for location, place the scratching posts in front of the furniture pieces your cat is prone to scratching. Cats often stretch and scratch when they first wake up; be sure to also place a scratching post near your cat’s sleeping area. Multi-level or larger homes require more than one scratching post. Multiple cats should have multiple posts, as well.
Train your cat to scratch desirable objects using positive reinforcement. Make sure to reward your cat as soon as you see her scratching the desirable object with something your cat likes, such as yummy treats or interactive play. A product called Feliscratch is highly effective in attracting cats to a scratching post and aids in training, as well.
Nail caps can be used for difficult cases. Though most cats can be trained to a scratching post, some take more time or will still scratch unwanted places. Plastic caps cover the nails so that they aren’t able to puncture the surface when scratching furniture or other objects.
Make sure all household cats are getting along. Inter-cat conflict is a common cause for increased scratching. If this is an issue in your home, please see our article