Cats need to scratch. They like to scratch. It’s just who they are.
Cats scratch for many different reasons: to hunt prey, to climb, to defend themselves, and to take care of their claws.
Try watching a cat stretch ‐ they scratch. When you play with your cat, her claws come out. It’s part of the game.
Your cat’s claws play a social role, too, with other cats. He scratches to mark his territory and uses his claws as social signaling instruments, leaving messages on surfaces to tell other cats he’s been there.
Claws are vitally important for a cat’s physical and emotional well-being. Just because your indoor kitty may not need to use her claws to hunt, defend herself, or send messages to other cats, they still define who she is and greatly influence her natural behavior.
Cats use their claws for balance, exercise, and for stretching and toning the muscles of their legs, back, shoulders and paws. Their claws assist them in staying strong and agile.
But, as many cat parents know all too well, claws can get cats into trouble…
Just as you use a nail file to keep your nails in shape, your cat needs to maintain hers, too. So she seeks out objects that get the job done ‐ and unfortunately that often turns out to be your upholstered couch or curtains.
Shaping Good Scratching Habits to Help Save Your Home
The good news is… your cat doesn’t need to groom her claws on your furniture, drapes, or carpeting.
While you can’t stop this natural, normal behavior (nor should you), you can do something that I know works: teach kitty where and what to scratch.
Here’s what I suggest for luring her to the right places and dissuading her from the wrong places to scratch:
- Provide appropriate, cat-attractive surfaces and objects to scratch, such as scratching posts and pads
- Encourage your cat’s use of the appropriate objects by scenting them with catnip, hanging toys on them, and placing them in areas where she likes to climb and claw
- Remove or cover up items you don’t want her to scratch
- Create “forbidden zones” by placing double-sided sticky tape, aluminum foil, or vinyl carpet runner with the spiky part up on or around your furniture (Attach them to cardboard for easy removal)
- Place appropriate scratching posts or pads next to forbidden objects
- Try an herbal spray to replace your pet's paw pad scent markers on furniture or other surfaces to discourage her from returning to those spots
- Trim your cat’s claws weekly to minimize damage
- As a last resort, cover each of your cat’s nails with commercially available, temporary nail caps
If your cat continues scratching inappropriate surfaces, try linking an unpleasant sensation or sound to the event. Connect her scratching in the wrong place with an unpleasant consequence like an “invisible” spray of water or loud noise.
Make sure she doesn’t see you doing it or she may get the idea it's safe to scratch when you're not around!
Trimming Your Cat’s Claws: One of Your Best Defenses Against Inappropriate Scratching
If you find the thought of trimming your cat’s claws intimidating, you’re not alone. Many owners forego nail trims out of fear of harming their cat, or of their cat’s response.
Done correctly, nail trimming doesn’t hurt your cat.
But, if your cat isn’t used to having his paws and toes handled, you may need to take some time, even weeks, to massage his paws to get him ready.
Once your cat allows you to handle his paws, proceed slowly and follow the steps below for a low stress and painless experience. Be prepared - this may take multiple sittings!
- Find a quiet location where you won’t be disturbed or distracted.
- Make sure you’re relaxed. Your cat will pick up on your nervousness!
- Recruit a helper. Cuddling her during a nail trim helps keep your cat from bolting and makes her feel more secure.
- Be sure to use sharp trimmers specially made for cutting pets’ nails. Dull, old cutters can split or crush your cat’s sensitive claws.
- Slowly take her paw between your fingers and massage gently. If she tries to pull away, keep your fingers on her paw, but follow her movement. You want to let her feel like she’s in control!
- Gently press the pad of a toe to extend the claw. Look for the pink “quick” of the nail where the nerves and blood vessels are located. You want to avoid this area, as clipping into the quick will cause pain and bleeding.
- Clip the nail only where it’s clear closer to the tip. If you can’t see the quick, just clip off the sharp tip of the claw.
- Don’t worry if you can only do one or two claws at a time. Your cat’s comfort is key, so proceed slowly until she’s comfortable with the process.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully trimmed your cat’s claws. If you do happen to hit the quick (which is fairly hard to do if you’re careful), calmly apply styptic powder to stop the bleeding. I always advise having the powder or stick form handy when trimming nails!
Thinking About Declawing? Please Read This First!
I believe if cat owners really understood what occurs during a declawing surgery, they would never, ever choose to put their pet through this barbaric procedure.
Here’s what you must understand: while other mammals, including humans, walk on the soles of their feet, cats walk on their toes.
When you declaw your cat, you’re literally cutting off part of her toes.
Tragically, many people believe “declawing” only involves removing the claw. But because the claw grows out of bone, declawing requires amputation of the entire first joint of each of a cat’s toes. The surgery removes not only the claw, but bones, nerves, the joint capsule, collateral ligaments, and the flexor tendons.
Normally, kitties carry 60 percent of their body weight on their front feet ‐ more than half of their body weight! If her front paws become damaged, even temporarily, the effects are felt all the way through the cat’s wrist, elbow, and shoulder, down the spine to the tail.
With declawing, you change your cat's ability to walk naturally. She’s forced to shift her weight backwards, which can lead to collapse of her wrists. Declawed cats sometimes end up walking on their ankles or wrists, which is very painful.
Declawing also severs her tendons, causing them to contract and pull the toes back. This changes the angle at which the foot connects with the ground.
Here’s another problem with declawing… When a small piece of bone is purposely left in, a painful regrowth can occur, even as much as 15 years later. All in all, declawing can lead to a whole host of physical complications such as chronic small bone arthritis, degenerative joint disease, and neuralgia.
Yet, many cats, being the stoic creatures they are, often appear normal after a declawing procedure. They may go back to playing, climbing and jumping, but none of it is normal movement because their entire physiology has been altered.
And down the road, behavioral problems can arise.
The Emotional Consequences of Declawing Your Cat
Pet owners are often caught off guard when behavioral changes arise after declawing. Most of the time their veterinarian hasn’t warned them it can ‐ and does ‐ happen.
I believe owners must be aware they are risking significant and permanent behavioral side effects, in addition to the many potential physical effects I already mentioned when they choose to declaw their pet.
Many cats experience emotional difficulties from declawing surgery. Owners report that their pet becomes morose, withdrawn, irritable, and even aggressive.
Imagine if every step you took caused you severe pain, you might act that way too!
Pet owners notice personality changes in their cat, too.
Recently declawed cats often become nervous, fearful and aggressive. Having lost their instinctive primary defense mechanism against predators, they resort to using their last remaining means of defense ‐ their teeth.
Many cats who were confident on the ground when they still had their claws, begin spending much of their time on elevated surfaces like the top of the refrigerator, countertops, or high shelving in closets once they’re declawed.
Some declawed kitties, once they discover they can no longer mark with their claws, begin to urinate around the house to mark their territory. This can result in long-term inappropriate elimination problems.
Tragically, declawing is still a routine procedure for many vets. No matter what they claim, a 2001 study published in a prominent veterinary journal reported that 80 percent of declawed cats had at least one medical complication following surgery and one-third developed behavior problems, such as biting or urinating outside their litter box.
Bottom line… there are no benefits to your pet from declawing ‐ only serious risks. I believe that finding alternatives to this barbaric surgery is the humane and loving thing to do for your cat.
Finding the ‘Purrrfect’ Scratching Pad or Post for Your Cat
In addition to regularly trimming your cat’s claws, providing your cat with an acceptable scratching object is the number one thing you can do to promote appropriate clawing.
As hard as it may be to believe, just a few short years ago, 48 percent of polled cat owners didn’t know they needed to supply their cat with a scratching post!
I’m sure by now you appreciate the need…
You have many options when it comes to scratching posts and pads. The most popular ones are made of cardboard, carpeting, wood, sisal, and upholstery.
And then there are different shapes… Some cats prefer horizontal scratchers. Others like vertical posts or slanted posts. Some prefer a vertical grain for raking, while others favor a horizontal grain.
How do you pick the type that’s best for your cat?
I’ve made some observations over the years that may help:
- Cats want a post that’s sturdy enough so it won’t shift or collapse
- Most cats like a surface that’s tall or long enough for them to fully stretch
- Cats want to feel secure and safe when they scratch
I suggest you put on your detective hat when deciding what will work best for your cat. Watch where she scratches. Does she go for your carpet? If so, get her a horizontal scratcher that sits on the floor.
Does he like to claw your couch? If so, get him a tall, sturdy scratching post or tree so he can do his clawing in an upright position.
Because cats have many moods, I recommend providing at least two different scratching surfaces ‐ a tall, sturdy scratching post and at least one horizontal scratcher. And if you have more than one cat, you’ll need more than one.
Choosing the ‘Right’ Material for Your Scratching Post or Scratcher
To pick the best material for your pad or post, let’s consider one of the primary reasons your cat scratches…
Your cat’s claws grow in layers, so he needs coarse materials to remove the worn and fraying outer layer.
That’s why he targets certain fabrics in your home ‐ like your nubby couch or rough textured drapes.
The scratcher or post you select needs to have a rough texture that will allow your cat to rake his nails across the surface. When a cat scratches, he wants to dig his nails into the object’s surface.
Carpeting – a commonly found material on posts ‐ doesn’t allow that. Rather, cats tend to get their claws stuck in the carpet loops.
As aesthetically appealing as carpeted scratching posts may be, they don’t get the job done. It’s pretty much a sure bet your cat will be back clawing your couch or drapes.
Additionally, most carpeting has been treated with potential toxins. Fire retardants, anti-stain compounds, and other preservatives and chemicals are incorporated into commercial carpeting. Why expose your cat to these chemicals, unnecessarily?
And keep in mind, providing a material that’s too close to a “forbidden” object, such as carpeting or fabric, may be confusing to your cat.
Two of the top kitty-preferred materials are sisal for upright posts and corrugated cardboard for horizontal scratchers. Both are rough enough to provide cats an effective and satisfying scratch.
A word about placement… Be sure to place your scratchers and posts where your cat likes to scratch. If you tuck them away in a corner so they won’t detract from your home décor, they’re likely to be ignored and unused!
Saving Cats… Saving Households
Every cat deserves to be loved and protected
Too many cats today are given up for their destructive clawing ‐ or subjected to incredibly painful and harmful declawing.
To help preserve peaceful households where every cat is loved and protected, I set out on a search for what I believe is the #1 solution to problem clawing ‐ a kitty-approved cat scratcher.
In addition to being cat-friendly, the ideal scratcher had to meet certain standards that are important to me (and I’m sure to you, too):
- Made with non-toxic materials, inks, and glues
- Eco-friendly and sustainably constructed
- Cat-tested and approved for shape and size
- Durable and long-lasting
- Stylish and attractive
- Made in the USA by trusted craftspeople
Too many cat scratchers today are covered with toxic glues and inks and they’re not environmentally friendly. I knew I had to find a better, non-toxic alternative…
We Couldn’t Leave Out the ‘Pièce de Résistance’ – Organic Catnip!
Truly the “pièce de résistance,” or key to many cats’ hearts, our high-quality organic catnip is your secret attraction, too!
The aroma of catnip stimulates most cats into an energetic and playful mood, so it’s ideal for attracting your cat to her new scratcher.
Once your cat finishes rolling about and rubbing against her new scratcher lounger, she’ll be all ready to curl up for a blissful catnap in her newly adopted haven!
Our Organic Catnip is grown, processed and packaged in accordance with the National Organic Standards. So you know it’s high quality and free of harsh chemicals.
When it comes to catnip, it’s all about the aroma, so freshness is very important. When you open our Organic Catnip, you’ll be pleased with the fresh potent scent ‐ and so will your cat. In order to maintain freshness, our Organic Catnip comes packaged in a resealable bag.
Here’s how to get the most out of your Organic Catnip:
- Gently rub a small pinch of catnip between your fingers to release the organic catnip oils and to boost its aroma
- Sprinkle over your cat’s new Cat Scratcher Lounger, bed, and other toys to encourage their use
- Reapply as needed, as catnip’s aroma doesn’t last forever
- To maintain freshness, store unused catnip in the refrigerator with the bag tightly sealed