When you get a new cat or kitten, knowing that clawing and scratching are natural for the cat to stay emotionally happy is imperative. Cats have several reasons for clawing the furniture (or carpet…or curtains), such as to mark territory, to sharpen the claws, and to stretch out their muscles. It is important to have safe ways to deter them from ruining the furniture without punishing them. Luckily, there are many actions you can take to make this happen, and to keep you and your cat happy.
Scratching Posts Galore!
Cats love scratching posts, but they have to know they are there and where they are. Showing them their posts and purchasing several to put around the house will help greatly. You can even add some catnip to the posts, at least in the beginning, to attract them. They types of scratching posts vary, and getting different types will help keep the cat interested. Of course, being a cat, he may prefer one over the other, and you may want to keep this in mind for future purchases.
Cat scratching posts come in materials such as cardboard, carpeting, a rough rope, or, if you want to stay completely natural, you can bring in wood logs or stumps. Be sure the scratching post is tall enough to allow the cat to stretch up high to scratch and if it a flat surface, be sure it is long enough for the cat to fit on. Also, posts should be sturdy. When you are shopping for an apparatus for your feline to scratch on, you may be quite surprised at the selection! Some are very high and are also great for climbing and romping on. If you are on a budget, you can even make your own using plenty of sources online or after consulting with a trainer.
Keep the Nails Dull
Trimming and filing your cat’s nails will make a big difference in the impact of their scratching. Also, when the cat’s nails are trimmed down it will prevent them from hurting himself, as long, sharp nails can get snagged or stuck as they are scratching. This can be quite painful! Learning to properly trim and file the nails is easy to do. First, be sure the clippers you purchase are of good quality. The basic way to trim the claws is to wrap your cat in a towel to offer a safe way to restrain him, and then take one paw and gently push it to enable the claws to come out. Quickly clip the tip of the claw, not getting too close to the quick. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. Doing this once a week will help make each cutting time much easier. If your cat is very resistant, you can try treats for rewarding him, getting a friend to help hold him as you clip, or taking him to the veterinarian or groomer to have the process professionally done.
Nail caps are an ultra-humane (and a real life-saver!) for scratching cats and cat owners everywhere. If your cat insists on clawing everything in sight, even after you have purchased scratching posts, nail caps may save you from despair. These little gems are relatively new (less than two decades) but have recently gained popularity. Many people insist on using these because they know they are much a much better alternative than declawing the cat. There are a few high-quality brands out there on the market, and the application process is pretty much the same for each.
The caps are made of a soft, pliable plastic for comfort and ease of application. After trimming your cat’s claws, you take a bit of the adhesive (included in the kit) and put it into the cap. Slide the cap onto the nail; the caps fit like a glove. The pet-safe adhesive dries very quickly, and you only have to apply them to the front claws.
Usually, the cat doesn’t even realize they are on, which in turn doesn’t interrupt their natural need and habits of scratching, and keeps them content. They also keep you content, as well, as you don’t have the stress of worrying about coming home to a clawed-up, snagged couch. You also don’t have to fret over your cat or kitten scratching a baby or toddler by accident or in defense. Plus, they are quite stylish; they come in a multitude of colors and designs!
Sprays and Tapes
Sprays and scents are quite popular, and they are safe for cats. When an area is less appealing to the kitty, he certainly isn’t going to want to spend any time there, much less doing something he loves to do! The herbal sprays give off an unpleasant odor, and the cat will not want to return to that scratching spot, whether it is a place on the carpet, the cushion of a chair, or draperies.
There are also strips of tape that are very sticky that you can apply to where the cat has scratched. When they return to do a repeat performance, they will avoid the area altogether (once they touch the stickiness). Cat paws are very sensitive to touch, and the last thing they want to do is claw a sticky surface! Using the sticky tape in conjunction with a spray is a win-win for you, as the cat will (hopefully) stick to their scratching posts for relief.
Knowing that scratching is a basic and natural need for cats, it may make it easier to understand that the cat is not misbehaving when doing so. Preventing them from ruining your furniture or carpet can be done with the tips above, and if you are still having an issue with the cat scratching in places you don’t want them to claw (or doing the same to small children), you can consult your veterinarian, a cat trainer, or a behaviorist for even more ideas.