Why Cats Scratch: How to Stop Your Cat From Using Your Furniture as a Nail File

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All cats are compelled to scratch as part of their natural behaviour. They scratch to sharpen their claws, to mark Scratching posts for catstheir territory (through the scents left behind on the glands of their paws), to remove dead parts of their nails to make the nail thinner and sharper, and to exercise. This behaviour is completely normal, in fact it’s instinctive, and it’s impossible to stop a cat from doing it. The question is, how do you get a cat to stop using your brand new furniture, the speakers on your sound system, or even your laptop bag and other personal accessories?

The first thing you need to do is step back and realise that your cat has absolutely no concept of what things cost and that she’s not being naughty. She just likes to scratch there because it feels good, and it’s as simple as that.

If a cat’s claws have not been naturally trimmed through scratching, they may – over time – grow in a circular shape causing the tips to grow into the cat’s paw pad, or they may become too thick – especially in older cats. This can be extremely painful for them – think in-grown toenails in humans – and it could also lead to infection.

So how do you stop kitty from using your precious belongings as a nail file? The trick is to make those areas as undesirable as possible so that you can direct her elsewhere.

Some quick fixes include the following:

Trimming your cat’s nails once a week will go a long way toward curbing her urge to claw, although it won’t eliminate the need completely. Remember to be extremely careful when clipping your cat’s nails, especially if they have dark claws which makes it very difficult to see the quick. Cutting into the quick is extremely painful and will cause bleeding. Think of the pain you experience when you cut into the quick of your own nail. This would be one sure way to send kitty running in the opposite direction next time she sees you approaching with a nail clipper.

When trimming your cat’s nails with a clipper, don’t cut the thick part of the nail, only the area at the tip where the nail narrows. If you do this every week, the quick will shorten and the entire claw will become naturally short as a result.

If kitty doesn’t like you clipping her claws and puts up a fight every time, you may want to let a groomer, or your veterinarian, do it for you.

Nail Caps
Nail tips for catsNail caps are soft rubber caps that fit over your cats nails and are probably the quickest and least painful way of stopping the scratching. Nail caps are put on with a special glue, and can look quite flashy with the colour ranges that are available. Unfortunately as kitty’s nails grow out, so the caps will fall off, but they’re a great stopgap until you find a better solution.

Sticky Tape
This tape usually comes in strips and all you have to do is peel of the backing and stick it to the item that is being Sticky pawsscratched. It is sticky on both sides, and kitty will find it incredibly inpleasant if she tries to scratch the adhesive as cats hate putting their paws on anything sticky. Your furniture won’t look too attractive however, but it’s a really effective fix, and kitty may decide that the scratcher you bought her is a much more desirable option. The sticky tape would need to replaced regularly though, as it tends to attract dirt and hair. Sticky Paws is a great brand to try.

Boundary Sprays
These generally last about 24 hours and usually incorporate a scent that cats hate, such as citronella. Just spray them on areas that kitty likes to scratch and chances are that she’ll head in the opposite direction.


Electronic Deterrents
There is a device called SSSCAT which uses a motion sensor and an air cannister. When a cat approaches a forbidden place, the device lets off a tone followed by a blast of air. Soon enough, just the tone will send your kitty running.


Feline Pheremones
Spraying feline pheremones can help keep your cat’s scratching under control because the calming scent reduces her need to mark her territory.

Long-Term FixesCat Scratching Couch

Take a look at how your cat likes to scratch and then purchase suitableĀ  scratchers to match her scratching preferences. There are vertical and horizantal scratchers. The horizantal ones are made of cardboard and are less expensive than their vertical counterparts. When buying a vertical scratcher make sure that it has a wide, sturdy base so that it feels safe and stable for your cat. Whatever the scratcher is made of, make sure your cat can really sink her claws into it. We would suggest buying a variety of scratchers made of different materials.

Location, Location, Location
Scratchers should be strategically placed where your cat spends most of her time. Try sprinkling catnip on them to make them extra attractive.The more available and convenient you make her scratching areas, the less likely she will be to attack your furniture.

Declawing Cats (Source: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/cats/tips/declawing.html)

This is probably one of the cruelest things you can do to your cat.

People often mistakenly believe that declawing their cats is a harmless “quick fix” for unwanted scratching. They don’t realise that declawing can make a cat less likely to use the litter box or more likely to bite. Declawing also can cause lasting physical problems for your cat.

Many countries have banned declawing. The Humane Society of the United States opposes declawing except for the rare cases when it is necessary for medical purposes, such as the removal of cancerous nail bed tumors.

People who are worried about being scratched, especially those with immunodeficiencies or bleeding disorders, may be told incorrectly that their health will be protected by declawing their cats. However, infectious disease specialists don’t recommend declawing. The risk from scratches for these peopleĀ is less than those from bites, cat litter, or fleas carried by their cats

– Article posted by Phillipa Mitchell




by Phillipa Mitchell

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