Scratching Posts May Save Your Furniture
New York State recently enacted a law banning the declawing of cats, which is very good news for cats, but may leave some people wondering about how to protect their furniture and drapes from a clawing cat.
Cats scratch to mark their territory by placing their scent on an object. They also scratch to wear off the sheath on their growing nails. Scratching is instinctive, so you can’t stop a cat from scratching. What you need to do is redirect that scratching, so that your cat is scratching where you want him to, and not on your furniture.
That’s where scratching posts come in and the easiest way to teach your cat to use a scratching post is to get the post before you get the cat. Don’t despair if you already have the cat; it will just take a bit longer to teach him to use the post. If your cat is already using your furniture, cover the furniture with double-sided tape. Sticky Paws is a brand that will help to discourage your cat from clawing a chair or sofa. Next, put a sturdy scratching post next to the furniture your cat has been scratching. Choose a sturdy post with a wide base so that your cat’s weight won’t tip it over. Once a cat has been frightened or hurt by a falling post, it will be very hard to get him to use it again.
Most posts are wrapped in sisal, which is durable and long-wearing. Some posts may be covered in carpeting, but you don’t want your cat to mistake your wall-to-wall for his so sisal may be a better choice. The post should be at least three feet high so your cat can stretch full length while scratching.
First, get some of your cat’s scent on the post, helping to mark it as his. Lure your cat to the post using a toy. As you wave the toy near the post, your cat will reach for the toy, putting his paws on the post. It can also help if your rub some catnip on the post. Praise your cat and give him a treat when you see him using the post.
If you’re starting with a cat who has not yet started scratching furniture, you can put the post wherever you would like it. If your cat is already using furniture, start with the post next to the furniture and gradually move it to where you would like it. Don’t rush. Move the post just a few inches and leave it in that spot for two or three days before the next small move. If you go too quickly, the cat will revert back to the furniture.
If you have more than one cat, you may need more than one post, because cats can be territorial and not let other cats use their post.
While a scratching post is the best solution for your cat you can also purchase nail covers in vinyl or rubber that go on over each nail. With these, you will definitely need to trim your cat’s nails on a regular basis.
Even with a scratching post, your cat’s nails may need to be trimmed. Cutting off the sharp tips will prevent your cat from snagging a nail on carpeting and possibly breaking a nail, which is not only painful, but can become infected.
Nail trimming is painless, but your cat may not like having his feet handled. Start slowly and be patient. Start by gently holding a paw until your cat is comfortable with that. Then, gently squeeze at the base of the toe to extend the claw. Don’t cut just yet. Let your cat smell the clipper and get used to it. Give him a treat. When your cat seems at ease with you holding his foot, clip one nail. Treat and praise your cat and let him go. Eventually, you should be able to do all the nails, but sometimes, doing just one or two nails at a time is all your cat will ever allow. Be happy with that, and just do what you can every day until all the nails are cut.
Cut the nails just where they start to curve, and you should miss the quick, the blood vessel that runs down the center of the nail.
If you can’t manage on your own, take your cat to a groomer for regular nail trims. With a little effort, you can have both a happy cat and undamaged furniture.