How to co-exist with your clawed cat

September 19, 2019

How to co-exist with your clawed cat

Declawing cats is out! Perhaps there are still a few people who will perform this amputation, however, soon this act will be illegal as it is in many countries of the world already. If you think you can’t own a clawed cat without sacrificing your furniture, well I’ve got news for you. Cats have been popular family pets long before declawing was ever done. You can have a clawed cat and live in harmony while maintaining your nice furniture.

First, we must understand that scratching is a normal and necessary behaviour for cats. Cats do not scratch out of spite, or to sharpen their claws to razor blade perfection. They scratch to stretch, to shed the outer layer of their claw and to mark their territory. Territorial marking helps to reduce stress and prevent physical conflict between cats. So how can you meet your cat’s physical and emotional needs and maintain your furniture’s appearance?

Like any relationship, there needs to be a bit of compromise. If you don’t want your cat to scratch on your sofa, you need to offer her an alternative. For the safety of your furniture, keep in mind that not all scratching posts are built alike. Your cat has some criteria when she picks a spot to scratch.  Just like you have some criteria when you shop for your furniture.

It must be stable. If it wobbles, how can she stretch with confidence?  It needs to stand solidly in place while she leans on it. Look for a post with a wide heavy base.

It must be tall. In order for her to get a good stretch, it needs to be as tall as she is long when she’s fully stretched out.  A little one-foot post or a piece of cardboard on the floor is not going to meet her needs. It could be a good addition to the collection with a bit of catnip, but it will not deter her from your leather sofa.

It must have an appealing texture. Every cat has an individual preference, but by far the most accepted texture for scratching is sisal. The rough surface allows her to rake her nails across and remove the outer sheath of the nail. 

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! When she wakes up from her cat nap in the living room, she’s not about to walk across the house for her post-nap stretch. So if you’ve hidden the post away in the basement, well your sofa will remain more appealing. 

A bit of training will go a long way.  Now that you’ve got the perfect post, one for each of your cats, and easily accessible. Well she still might need a little bit of direction. Teaching her that the post alone and not your furniture is for her scratching needs does not involve ANY punishment. Even if you catch her in the act, punishment will have a negative effect on your relationship and all she will learn is to wait until you’re not looking. If your cat was already scratching the furniture, place the new scratching post directly beside it. Make the post more appealing with a spray of catnip or a “Feliway” application. Then make your furniture less appealing with double- sided tape. You can also strategically place an “SSSCAT” can (motion-activated compressed air) to harmlessly scare your cat away from the valuable couch.

During this training process, or for as long as needed, you can apply soft paws to your cat’s nails. Soft paws are a temporary plastic cap placed on your cat’s nails, rendering them almost harmless. If you aren’t comfortable placing them yourself or need a bit of help, call to schedule an appointment with one of our nurses!

Emilie Gauthier
Registered Veterinary Technician