by Lauren Mieli
Cats have claws – and they need them the same way that you and I use our fingers. They use their claws to pick things up, grab onto things, stretch, remove dead nail sheaths, climbing and to defend themselves.
While declawing is still considered legal in the U.S., (it’s illegal in many countries) more and more veterinarians are choosing not to offer this procedure as it involves amputation of the cat’s first joint at the first knuckle. It’s painful and frankly, cruel and unnecessary.
Problems with declawing
Many cats experience problems after being declawed. Those with declawed cats often report pain in the paws, phantom pain, litter box issues and increased biting.
Why do people declaw their cats?
The primary reason that cats are declawed is to protect furnishings or to prevent scratching of the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.
- When a home is properly “catified,” your cat will have the items they require to scratch – this can involve scratching posts, cat trees and other enrichment items.
- As for declawing to avoid scratch risk from the elderly, studies have shown that the risk from a bite is far more danger than a scratch.
What are the best ways to encourage a cat to scratch?
Today there are myriad ways to encourage your cat to scratch on surfaces that both make your cat happy – and you, as their cat parent, happy too! Note that cats are very particular creatures and you’ll have to have some patience to figure out what your cat likes.
- Scratching posts/pad – Be sure to include scratching posts in your home. Posts come in all shapes, sizes and substrates. Offer your cat vertical posts, horizontal posts/pad and hybrid/angles posts. Sprinkle the post with catnip or catnip/silvervine blend to encourage your cat. Never force your cat on the post – it could have the opposite effect and make your cat fear the post. When you discover which post(s) your cats prefer, buy several of them and sprinkle them throughout your home. Concentrate on areas where your cat spends a lot of their time.
- Substrates – Try a variety of substrates because not all materials are enjoyable to all cats. If you cat is scratching your carpet – start out with a carpet-covered post. Also consider sisal and cardboard and two other options. My own cats use all three – they enjoy sisal, carpet and cardboard.
Still won’t use the scratching posts?
If your cat still isn’t interested in any of the posts, you can try many other things to keep your cat from using your furniture:
- Double-sided tape – A quick search on Amazon in the pet section will reveal a number of double-sided tape that is safe for most furniture. Place the tape on the areas where your cat is scratching and they will soon learn that it isn’t a good place to scratch. Be warned however, that your cat may just try a different spot (they’re smart!)
- Feliscratch – A new product on the market is called Feliscratch and I’ve had great success with it, particularly when paired with their Feliway Classic product. Use Feliscratch on a new scratching post and spray furniture or other objects you’re looking to protect with Feliway Classic. The Feliscratch will tell your cat (through scent and pheromones) that the object is good place to scratch. By contrast, the Feliway Classic spray tells your cat (again through pheromones) that the chair or sofa is “already happy enough” and that there’s no need to keep scratching it.
- Nail trimming – Get used to trimming your cat’s nails. When regularly trimmed, they are dull and do not do the same damage that sharp nails are capable of. It’s much easier to trim your cat’s nails when they are young, but it’s absolutely possible to teach your cat to accept nail trimming in a safe, painless and humane way.
- Nail caps – They look kind of funny, but some cat owners opt to have tiny rubber caps glued to their cat’s nails. It’s painless, albeit a little funny looking. Kits are sold in a variety of colors so you can see them when they fall off. You can put them on your cat while at home or a qualified groomer can help you with it.
Cat scratching can be frustrating when it isn’t directed appropriately… but when you embrace your cat’s nails and the amazing things they can do with them – you’ll learn to appreciate how cool your cat is. Lastly, please don’t punish your cat for using its claws. It isn’t fair to punish an animal for a part of their body that is natural and serves so many purposes. Be patient, observe and your cat will reveal his/her preferences over time.
Lauren Mieli is the founder and creator of the popular cat blog, The Catnip Times, with over a million followers in over 130 countries. She also launched the first and largest cat-only convention for cat lovers in the Midwest in July 2017, called Meow MeetUp. Lauren is an avid cat lover, volunteer and educator on everything cat.
Check out TheCatnipTimes.com on the web or social media!