By: LISA RADOSTA DVM, DACVB
Cats need to scratch. Scratching serves multiple important functions. It removes the cuticle from the claws and it leaves a visual and scent marker for all who pass through the area. On the other hand, no one likes to have their furniture ruined. While declawing stops the damage to your furniture, there are alternatives to declawing that are less stressful and painful for the cat. Read on to see if any of these options would work for your cat.
GIVE YOUR CAT WHAT HE WANTS
This is the most important step altogether. If your cat has an appropriate place to scratch of the substrate that he wants, he won’t be near as driven to scratch your stuff. For example, if he is scratching your leather couch, give him a pleather (fake leather) covered cat scratcher. Keep him interested in it by rewarding him with food when he goes there and using catnip to peak his interest.
COVER THE CLAWS
Soft Paws are plastic caps which fit over your cat’s claws. Your cat has to be willing to let you or your veterinarian put them on and trim the nails underneath. Some cats will take them off, but many tolerate them. You can find out more at www.softpaws.com.
USE HUMANE DETERRENTS
Humane deterrents (those that repel cats, but don’t hurt them) can be valuable when also used in conjunction with motivational tools such as catnip and rewards. If you just put deterrents out and don’t give your cat something adequate to scratch on, you are sure to just send your cat packing to the next couch or chair. Some good deterrents are motion activated air spray devices, aluminum foil, carpet runner knobby side up, double sided tape and contact paper with the sticky side up.
ENTICE YOUR CAT
The old phrase that you get more flies with honey than vinegar still holds true. Entice your cat to love his new scratching areas by feeding him there, scattering treats at the base of the scratching post, rewarding him when he scratches and putting catnip or spraying catnip spray on the scratching post.