Scratch That ~ Strategies for Channeling Your Cat's Natural Urge to ClawMar 31, 2022 09:31AM ● By Jorelle Baker
One of the biggest challenges with owning a cat is managing their desire to scratch. When that urge isn’t channeled properly, cats can cause considerable damage to furniture, clothes and walls. However, it is the owner’s responsibility to provide their cat with an outlet for scratching and avoid unnecessary procedures like declawing to keep their home and family safe.
Why do cats scratch?
Cats have a biological and physical need to scratch. Scratching helps them remove old nail sheaths, allowing their nails to continue growing without impediment. Scratching is also a way to mark their territory from other animals, stretch their long bodies and provide them better grip when climbing and running.
How to keep cats from scratching furniture
1. Scratching posts: Having a variety of stable scratching posts around the house offers the cat different options for focusing its instincts. Posts made of various materials, like cardboard and sisal rope, are readily available at pet stores. Avoid posts wrapped in fabrics that feel similar to furniture, to reduce confusion about what’s OK to scratch.
2. Pet-safe tape: This product will prevent your cats from clawing furniture without doing any harm to your cat or your furniture.
3. Nail clipping: Introduce your cat to getting its nails clipped at an early age. This will not remove its need to scratch, but clipped nails won’t damage furniture as much as sharp nails will.
4. Nail caps: Cat-specific nail caps cover sharp nails, providing a soft and smooth edge so the cat can scratch any surface without damaging it.
5. Positive reinforcement: Leaving scented treats or sprinkling catnip on a scratching post will teach the cat to scratch that specific surface.
The problem with declawing
As a holistic practice, we are highly against declawing, a surgical procedure where the veterinarian removes the third bone in the cat’s front paws. It’s unnecessary, only benefitting the owner while harming the pet. It also comes with a variety of post-surgical risks:
Acute/chronic pain: The cat’s body will inform it that it’s missing bones and there’s a problem.
Improper posture: The bone structure has changed, so the cat will be forced to walk differently, which can cause spinal problems and improper posture.
Nerve damage: Improper posture can damage the nerves over time, as they are forced to engage with the body differently.
Aggressive behavior: Cats can be vindictive. If they are constantly in pain, they may lash out at the owner.
It is our responsibility to care for our pets and provide them with everything they need for a safe, comfortable and healthy life. Cats have a need to scratch, and it is the cat owner’s job to provide an outlet for them. If you’re having trouble keeping your cat from clawing, speak to a veterinary professional to find out what else can be done.