Declawing and Scratching

cat-cageWhat is declawing?

Declawing is the process of surgically removing a cat’s claws from their feet. It seems to be a fairly normal and common procedure, however it can actually be quite painful for the cat. To declaw a cat, a vet has to cut into the bone in the foot so the claws do not grow back. It’s a painful recovery for the cat. On top of that, later in life the cat’s chances of developing arthritis grow. Because the shape of their foot has changed, the cat walks on it differently and is more likely to develop arthritis as well as balance issues.

What are the long lasting effects of declawing?

If the clipper for the surgery is dull, it can shatter the bones in the cat’s foot. It can become infected and require another surgery to correct it.

The cat may also associate the pain in its paws with the litterbox, and look for a more comfortable place to urinate including: carpet, bedding, bathtubs, etc…

Declawing takes away a cat’s go-to defense mechanism, which can change the cat’s personality. The cat can become more stressed and live in a highly anxious state of mind. This can make a cat less social and more skittish. On top of that, the cat may resort to using biting as their primary defense on animals and people.

Why do cats like to scratch?

Cats scratch as a general stress reliever, but for a few other reasons too. Cats will scratch to remove the dead outer layer of their nails, to promote healthy growth of new nails. They also have scent glands in their paws, so when they scratch on a surface, they mark that as their territory, which is a much better way to mark their territory, as opposed to urinating. In addition, cats will find something to scratch and stretch on when they get up from a nap.

Scratching-Post

What do cats like to scratch?

Cats prefer textures that resemble tree bark. Sometimes things in your home like your furniture, carpet, or drapes have just the right texture. If a cat starts scratching these items, it is tricky, but not impossible to get them to stop. The first thing to do is to provide plenty of appropriate items for the cat to scratch on.

This means getting at least one scratching toy for every room of the house the cat likes to hang out in. There is a lot of flexibility in the product you get, but the favorite materials cats like to scratch are sisal, seagrass, and jute. Be sure to get products big enough for the cat, because if it is too small, the cat will just find something big enough (i.e. your furniture) to scratch and stretch on.

How can I get my cat to stop clawing my furniture?

Providing plenty of scratching posts will entice them to use something other than your furniture, however we recommend that you use a product to push them away from using your furniture. It is not advisable to yell at them or spray them with water, as this often doesn’t work and only creates fear between you and your cat. However, you can use boundary sprays on the couch that are odorless to you, but repulsive to the cat, or double sided sticky tape on the areas that they scratch. The feel of tape is undesirable to a cat, so they associate the whole texture of the couch with that feeling. You can use any double sided tape you find at a hardware store, or Sticky Paws made by Pioneer Pet, which is a sticky tape in larger sheets. Last but not least, keep the nails trimmed down to an appropriate length, trying to make it a weekly habit. There are specific pet nail trimmers, or grooming shops that usually offer walk in nail trim services if you’re not quite brave enough to tackle it yourself.

The best articles are HERE on all aspects of cat behavior issues.

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