SCRATCHING IS A NATURAL, HEALTHY, & INSTINCTUAL BEHAVIOR FOR ALL CATS,
so claw management is just as an important cat care issue as good nutrition, quality vet care, grooming, and litterbox maintenance. Understanding why cat paws are designed & equipped with claws is the key to embracing & accepting them. Claws are integral tools that are used by cats everyday for communicating, walking (cats are DIGITIGRADE animals) & balancing on a complete paw, climbing, scratching, catching & grasping toys, grooming, and raking & negotiating litter. And very importantly, claws are a cat's main means of safety, security, and self-defense. Claws can save the life of an indoor cat that accidentally gets out of the house & suddenly has to defend themselves outdoors or has to hunt for food to survive. Claws complete a whole, healthy paw.
Unfortunately, some people assume all cats - especially ones kept indoors only - will be "destructive" scratchers and automatically shred & destroy the furniture. This simply is not true. Satisfying a cat's healthy desire to scratch may be as easy as buying a $6 cardboard scratch pad.
Cats are highly intelligent creatures and the vast majority can easily be redirected to do their healthy scratching on tall sisal scratch posts & cardboard pads. It's just like when a child incorrectly draws on the wall - we redirect them & give them an appropriate place to do their drawing on, like paper. If cats don't have appropriate places to satisfy their natural & healthy scratching, they will use the furniture. For the few cats that are more stubborn & a bit harder to train, there are humane solutions that work like covering their claws with SOFT PAWS or covering the furniture ends with STICKY PAWS. If a cat is scratching excessively, it could be a symptom of anxiety, illness, or boredom from lack of attention or enrichment. Cats cannot talk so their claws and scratching are one of their main means of communicating with humans, and with other pets in their household.
Healthy & normal scratching is done for both physical and psychological reasons. Rugged, rhythmic, claw hold resistance scratching is necessary to exercise and stretch all the muscles in the back and legs. Scratching with claws is also a very powerful stress reducer for cats. Cats use their claws to communicate, they are a cat's main writing tool. Their paws are equipped with glands that secrete their own special scent when they scratch which leaves humans and other animals messages like, "I passed here at exactly 8:00 o'clock today on my way to the litterbox". These kind of scratches mark their territory. A scratch can also say, "Perfume soaked Aunt Bea is holding me too tight right now!". Scratching is also done to clean and shed old nail sheaths. And most importantly to cats, they scratch because it feels really great and is excellent entertainment too.
It may take a bit of time and energy to see what scratching solution works for an cat individual, but a graceful feline is worth the effort. Cats deserve to live with their natural claws, and humans deserve to live in a home not damaged by their beloved pets too. It is absolutely possible to coexist with cat claws and not have furniture damage or scratched flesh. And if someone for some reason knows they can't live with cat claws, we would hope that they would please make the humane and compassionate decision to adopt a cat that has already been declawed. There are 1000's of them in our area shelters waiting for homes. But please take caution, there is a strong connection between declawed cats & behavioral problems, as well as declawed cats being more suspectible to chronic issues like asthma, cystitis, and skin disorders.
"Destructive scratching problems are 100% correctable. Providing the cat with suitable scratching targets to satisfy this instinctive behavior and encouraging appropriate behavior is generally all that is required. Contact Cats International if your cat is presenting a challenging scratching problem. We guarantee success!"
HOW TO MANAGE CAT CLAWS & SCRATCHING WITH EASY SOLUTIONS THAT WORK!
Cat Nip Grass or Spray, Treats, Positive Reinforcement and Praise (ENCOURAGE APPROPRIATE SCRATCHING WITH POSITIVE PRAISE!!!), Nail Trimmers, Cat Sack, Instructions To Trim Your Cat's Claws, Sisal Mats, Cardboard Scratch Pads, Repellents, PURRFECT SISAL Posts, TOPCAT Posts, "CORNER SAVER" Scratch Post, Sisal Scratching Board, Feliway, Kitty Cure, Soft Paws, Clicker Training, Sticky Paws, Cat Trees/Cat Furniture, Turbo Scratcher, Alpine Scratcher, Paws Away Furniture, Furniture Protectors, Sisal Remnants to make your own Post, Instructions To Make Your Own Scratching Post, CAT TREE PLANS, PETVIDEO.COM scratch train videos, VIDEO: Using a Scratching Post to Maintain a Healthy Cat Lifestyle ,CAT SCRATCH GAURD
NAIL TRIMMINGS! Regular nail trimmings will keep claws blunt, round and harmless. If a cat's claws are ripping or tearing flesh or fabric, they are too long! Clipped claws can't dig themselves into anything since they are round and blunt. Cat nail clippers can be bought at grocery stores these days and even human nail clippers work well. Nails should be clipped at least once a month to keep them blunt, and if you are worried about your cat scratching your children, then trimming them more often is a great idea. Start trimming your cats nails when they are young so they accept it as part of routine grooming. Praise your kitty when you are doing the trimming so they know it is something good. Older cats may require 2 people to get the trimming done or you may need to wrap kitty in a towel or "Cat Sack" and bring out one paw at a time. Also, try doing when kitty is "cat napping" or mellowed out. If your cat is wound up and ready to rock and roll, it probably is not a good time to get nail trimming done! Keep trimmers on your bed side table so they are convenient to grab when the right trimming time presents itself. Or, consider doing the trimming in a small room like the bathroom so kitty feels safe in a small area (plus he can't get too far if he bolts away). Follow up the trimming with treats, praise, and a cat nip party so kitty associates nail trimming with good positive rewards. Email us if you need ideas and help trimming your cat's nails. A vet's office or animal groomer can also help you learn how to trim your cats nails. These articles also illustrate how to do it - Dr. Schelling's "How To Trim Your Cat's Claws" and "How To Trim A Cat's Claws" by HSUS www.animalsheltering.com
SCRATCH PADS! Make sure to provide several cardboard scratch pads for your cats in different locations. Most every cat adores the texture of corrugated cardboard scratch pads - especially cats that prefer to scratch horizontally! They are inexpensive & can be found at most grocery stores. BE GENEROUS! Buy one for every room in your house so kitty knows right where to go when he walks into a room to do his natural scratching! Remember, cats will scratch the furniture when they aren't given proper places to do their scratching - it's imperative that they have appropriate places to scratch! If they walk into a room and see a big, sturdy couch and no posts or pads, they are going to scratch the couch, wouldn't you if you were a cat? Sisal doormats are fantastic for cats since many cats like to mark “I'm here to bow down to now” with their claws when they walk into a room. Many cats like to stretch and scratch when they get up from napping, so a scratch pad or sisal mat close to where kitty sleeps is always a good idea.
"I got a scratching pad last night at the petstore and it came with a little package of cat nip to sprinkle on it. Oh Man does Frankie love it!!! He was going at it and having a lot of fun. Thanks for that wonderful suggestion." Kathie, Cincinnati, OH
Watch this VIDEO on training a cat to use a cardboard pad!
SCRATCHING POSTS! Vertical scratching cats LOVE tall posts to scratch on, but they need to be STURDY (don't buy ones that tip over of hang on doorknobs) and at least 24" to 30" tall so cats can do a full body stretch while they are getting a healthy, rugged, rhythmic, claw hold scratch in. Pay attention to where your cat is scratching - placement of the post is critical - cats want to be where their humans are and where the action is, so don't hide a post in the basement or the utility room if those are unpopular rooms in the house - chances are your cat is not going to use it - it needs to be in a central location and in the area where your cat likes to do his scratching (if he's scratching in the family room the most, than don't put it in the dining room!). There are many "designer" type of posts on the market today that resemble beautiful furniture, so these days a post doesn't have to stick out like a sore thumb in a living room. Sprinkle fresh cat nip (or use cat nip spray) once a week on the posts, pads, and cat furniture to keep kitty interested. Placing kitties favorite toys or treats on top of the post can motivate kitty to climb and scratch it. During play time, run a laser light up and down the post to get kitty crazy about it! When you first bring a post in your home, place it in the middle of the room and sit next to it with your coffee or glass of wine and have a "New Scratching Post Party!" When your cat sees you hanging out by it, their curiosity will naturally bring them over. Be excited about the post and your cat will be too! Praise kitty when he uses it! Eventually you can move it out from the center of the room, but again don't place it too far away from the crowd. Also, you don't have to spend a fortune on a scratching post and can BUILD YOUR OWN with tree branches, logs, scrap wood, or fence posts. Making a one from a LADDER works awesome too.
Watch PetVideo.com's series on cat scratch training!
"We talk "cat" by hissing at them when they are scratching inappropriately (or doing anything we don't want them to like jumping on the counter). We then show them appropriate behavior (like scratching on their cat tree) and give them TONS of praise. It has worked for every "newbie" cat we've brought into the house by establishing "our territory" and they don't need additional training after they know where they are allowed to scratch. :)"
-Deb and Greg
Check out Dr. Schelling's videos of her new "The Mondo" scratcher on The Purrfect Post website: http://www.purrfectpost.com/Mondo_Scratching_Video.html and http://www.purrfect.post.com/Mondo_Training_Videos.html
SOFT PAWS are soft vinyl nail caps that can be glued over kitties claws that lasts several months at a time. They are excellent training tools, especially when you are bringing a new cat into the house. Cover their claws with Soft Paws while you see where and what kind of texture your new cat likes to scratch. They are also good when a new piece of furniture arrives and your cat needs training time to learn not to scratch it -- if the nails are trimmed or covered with Soft Paws then no damage can happen. Soft Paws can also be worn all the time too. Watch this VIDEO of a vet applying Soft Paws to a beautiful orange cat - applying Soft Paws is something you can do yourself at home!
IF A CAT IS SCRATCHING THE COUCH CORNER try STICKY PAWS (or double sided tape). If a cat likes to scratch the couch corner, make the corner undesirable with gooey tape – cats definitely do not like anything that makes their paws sticky! Double sided tape can be bought at home improvement stores. Fresh Kitty also makes a product called "Furniture Protectors" which are small sheets of plastic that you can lay across your couch corners. There are also scratching posts specifically made to wrap around couch corners like "Corner Saver" by Cataround and SCRATCH AWAY post.
IF A CAT IS SCRATCHING THE WALL-to-WALL CARPET and prefers scratching carpet more than sisal, wood, or cardboard, there are scratching posts made of carpet like the SCRATCH ABSORBER. Make sure to make the carpeted post more attractive than the carpet on the floor by keeping it sprinkled with cat nip. Carpet samples are inexpensive and can be placed over the area of wall-to-wall carpeting your cat is scratching to prevent permanent damage while you are training her to just scratch the carpeted post. If your cat likes to scratch cardboard too, it's always a good idea to have a cardboard scratcher near the area of carpet your cat is scratching and praise her when she scratches the cardboard and not the carpet. Yummy treats work too!
IF A CAT IS SCRATCHING THE WALL OR WOODWORK then try a piece of plexiglass against the wall so kitty has no where to sink her claws in and learns to avoid that area. Place a tall vertical post nearby so there is something appropriate to scratch. You can also place a sheet of cardboard, old bulletin board, sisal scratching board, or wood (painted the same color of the walls if you really want to get fancy) against the wall that kitty likes to scratch so no permanent damage is done to the wall. Sticky Tape or double sided tape can be used on woodwork so kitty learns that woodwork = sticky, gooey paws. There are also scratching posts made of natural wood like Natural Scratch if a cat loves the feel of scratching natural wood.
IF YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT NEW FURNITURE ARRIVING - While a cat is learning not to scratch your new piece of furniture, cover it while you aren't home while providing a sturdy post or cardboard pad nearby so kitty knows where to go to scratch - and praise her when you see her scratching the right place! There are also repellents (cats do not like citrus or orange smells) available to spray on the object that you don't want kitty to scratch. Cats are highly intelligent animals that can easily be trained with some time and effort. Cats respond to voice commands so make sure to praise a cat with positive reinforcement & yummy treats or cat nip when she scratches in the right place. Don't forget about extra nail trimmings or Soft Paws when new furniture arrives and spray some FELIWAY pheromone spray to reduce territorial scratching around the new furniture every other day.
CLICKER TRAINING cats is becoming very popular - cats can even be trained to use the toilet and play the piano! Check out this awesome video called "Ankle Attack" where a kitten is clicker trained NOT to attack human ankles, the same kind of clicker training can be done for scratching as well!
THINK WILD! Cat's are really "little tigers" so think about what the Big Cats scratch in nature and bring it in for your little cat to scratch like logs, rocks, and tree branches. Don't forget that cats need stimulation - especially indoor only cats that can be become bored and restless and may become naughty if they don't have enough to satisfy their curiosity. Cats need daily exercise and stimulation just like humans and providing them a place to climb, perch, scratch, and play will do wonders for their physical and mental enrichment. They love interactive toys too like the TURBO SCRATCHER!
Before you leave for work, think about hiding some food treats or your cats favorite toys so they can "hunt" for them while you are gone, and don't be surprised if they are waiting as "gifts" by the door when you home!
INVEST IN SOME CAT FURNITURE! Cats love their own special "hide-a-way" spaces and places where they can roll & wiggle of their very own - saves wear and tear on the human furniture too! Check discount stores for inexpensive cat furniture or consider making your own!
"Why Cats Need Claws" by Gary Loewenthal www.animalplace.com/pet_tips/cats_need_claws.pdf
"Think Twice Before You Declaw" by Steve Dale stevedalepetworld.com
catscratching.com by veterinarian Dr. Christianne Schelling DVM www.catscratching.com
EMAIL US WITH YOUR IDEAS FOR MANAGING HEALTHY SCRATCHING!
FELINE DEXTERITY and INGENUITY, INTERESTING FACTS
"The front paws of a cat are delicate sensory organs, organs of locomotion, and dexterous tools that perform countless tasks. Cats walk on their toes, like ballet dancers. A cat uses healthy to grasp, groom, dig and rake litter material/earth, walk, balance, mark territory, defend itself and others (kittens, et al.), climb, play, knead, communicate, and perform countless ongoing routine tasks of living.
Cats have a dominant forepaw and hind paw, usually the left, just as humans have a dominant hand and foot, usually the right.
The DNA of the cat is closest to that of man of any animal other than the primates. The same part of the feline andcorrespond to emotion. The brain:body ratio is the same for man and cat. (See: "The Human--Cat Connection" and "Cats: Nature's Masterwork," , June, 1997.)
"Almost prehensile in their ability to grab, cuff, tap, hold, and snatch, a cat's front paws possess a versatility unique to felines." (Wild Cats of the World by Barbara Sleeper, Crown Publishers, Inc., NY, 1995)
A cat at the Vatican independently routinely opened the door to the kitchen at mealtimes by reaching up and turning the doorknob! See book, (Cat Shots, published by the National Geographic Society in 1998). Cat survived ride on top of car at 60 mph (news clip from Metro, May 24, 2004). "Joe clung on for dear life with his claws to the groove at the top of the rear door. It's unbelievable."
Information from Harriet Baker, author of The Shocking Truth of Declawing Cats