You adopted a new cat or kitten, and within a day your new bundle of joy has started scratching your beautiful sofa, and sharpening her claws on your good chair and carpet. What do you do about your cat’s destructive scratching so she doesn’t destroy your home? How do you protect all your beloved possessions?
First, it’s important to understand why cats scratch. Cats sharpen their claws to stretch their muscles, to extend and retract their nails, and to remove the outer nail sheaths. They also scratch to mark their territory.
Therefore, you need to redirect this natural scratching tendency by offering your cat a surface specifically designed for your cat’s claws: the scratching post.
Scratching posts come in a variety of shapes, and some cats prefer vertical or slanted posts, while others like horizontal posts. You can purchase them online or at your local pet store, and be sure to buy one that is very sturdy, stable, and will not shift or collapse when your cat is scratching.
Place the scratching post next to the furniture you don’t want your cat to scratch, especially near your cat’s sleeping area so she can stretch and scratch after waking up.
Entice your cat by scenting the post with catnip or catnip spray, or by hanging toys around the post. Cover the sides of your furniture, if your cat has been previously scratching these surfaces, with double-sided sticky tape to discourage inappropriate scratching.
Also, place several posts around your home. Encourage your cat to approach the post but don’t hold her there or force her to use it because she may frighten easily and avoid the post. When she uses the post praise her so she will develop a positive association with her new post.
In addition, you will also need to trim your cat’s nails every few weeks. This will also discourage her from damaging your furniture. If you start clipping her nails when your cat is still a kitten, it will probably be easier, but an adult cat’s nails can also be clipped if you keep the cat comfortable and calm during the process.
You may need a blanket or towel in which to wrap your cat so she’s swaddled and gently restrained. Envelope her entire body and initially leave one paw out and visible so you can access the paw without the cat squirming uncontrollably.
Use a clipper specifically designed for feline nails. Remain calm when approaching your cat with the clippers, and gently touch her paw when pressing down to show the nail tip. You may also enlist a helper to sit with your kitty to calm her. Place the clippers on the sharpest edge of the nail, and avoid the “quick”, the pink nail center that contains blood vessels. Clip a few nails at a time on one paw, and if you have to stop the session, resume the following day until you have clipped all the nails on her paws.
A gradual pace helps your cat become comfortable and familiar with her scratching post and nail clipping routines. Your cat will be grateful and your furniture will remain scratch-free!