Kittens and cats like to scratch things. This essential cat behavior serves to mark territory, gives emotional release, maintains healthy nails by shucking off old nail husks, and gives physical therapy and release because it lets a cat stretch and strengthen the tendons and muscles of its legs, paws, shoulders, and back. Though healthy and natural to your cat, scratching can become a real problem for the owner. The things they find to scratch are often the legs of your antique table, your upholstered sofa, or your expensive stereo speakers. Fortunately, there are a number of effective and simple solutions for dealing with cat scratching.
Some people have considered declawing, often believing that it is merely a radical manicure. In reality, it is a surgical procedure that often amputates a cat’s bones, tendons, ligaments and claws to the first knuckle of each toe. Declawing is also often very painful for a cat. Although in most cases the pain appears to subside after 24 to 36 hours, how to cut cat nails with human clippers in other instances the pain lasts considerably longer especially if there are surgical complications, and any kind of surgery has risks of complications. In fact, some cats are still hobbling and limping around years after the declawing – again especially if there were mild to moderate surgical complications – though the majority eventually recover completely.
Keep in mind that it is natural for cats to scratch and that most cats cannot be made not to scratch. Even declawed cats will attempt to scratch and claw objects. Before considering declawing as an alternative, research the subject. Fortunately, there are several good options to declawing. These take the form of training your cat to use scratching posts, physical deterrents, and trimming of the nails. You will find that many veterinarians believe declawing is a painful and unnecessary surgery and will refuse to do it for humane reasons. Instead, they will likely advocate these simple and effective methods that you can use yourself.
Among the three methods, most people find the scratching post solution to be the easiest, most natural, and most effective. Scratching posts are also readily available at your local pet store. If you see your cat start to claw your couch or anything else that you do not want scratched, pick it up, take it to the cat post and put its claws on the scratching post to scratch it. Teaching your cat to use a scratching post can save many pieces of furniture, while at the same time giving your cat or kitten a fun place to scratch and play, and it can also be very entertaining and fun for the owner to watch.
The following tips about how to choose and use a scratching post will greatly help your and your cat’s efforts:
- Try to have one scratching post for each cat in your household. Once the problem is under control, those that are not being used can be removed.
- Each scratching post should be tall enough for your cat to stretch up to its full height without being able to reach the top. 3 feet is usually a good height.
- The scratching post should be steady. No cat will want to use a post that rocks or falls over.
- Use the correct material – it should be tough but also allow the cat to scratch it to leave marks and frays. This satisfies the cat emotionally and territorially. A lot of cats enjoy using burlap.
- Choose an attractive and obvious location for your cat, at least at first. Do not try to hide the post or put it in a dark corner or rarely used room. You may even want to try putting the scratching post near the scratched furniture or other site that your cat has used before, and then gradually reposition the post to a location of your choice later.
Deterrent methods can also be used, and these methods are usually good as backup and can be used in combination with the scratching post. To protect your valuable furniture, you can try lining the legs of your couch or other furniture with double-sided tape or a towel sprayed with a bitter apple product on it. You can also try using a direct deterrent method like a spray bottle filled with water. If you see your cat start to claw your couch or anything else that you do not want scratched, spray it with the spray bottle. Just be careful not to spray the cat in the face. Such deterrents do not have to be used forever, just until you get your kitten or cat trained to use the scratching post.