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Why Cats Scratch And What You Can Do About It

Cats Scratch

Thinking about having your cat declawed because you are dismayed when looking at your furniture and the window screens that your cat has torn into pieces of confetti?

Have you "had it"...wondering how you can finally put an end to this behavior? Before you hastily take him to the vet to have him declawed, it would help you if you knew why the cat is at war with your upholstery.

Cats weren't always domesticated animals. At one time they were hunters. They had to hunt to survive. Their claws were weapons when hunting and used at times to climb trees to protect themselves or to drop down on unsuspecting prey.

This is the main reason you should refrain from having him declawed...this is how he defends himself if the need arises. Today, however, cats have it easy and get their food from a dinner bowl instead of having to hunt for food!

Cats are also genetically designed to sharpen their claws even though their claws are not used as they once were. When they scratch, besides preparing their weapons, they are also trimming their nails when it is necessary to do so.

Scratching things also sets their territory. It lets other cats know what belongs to them. You see, when a cat scratches, they are releasing a scent from glands in their paws. There are more reasons why cats scratch. They do it to get any kinks out of their bodies, and scratching also also allows them to exercise their muscles.

Yes, you could declaw your cat, but having him declawed is actually undergoing surgery and that's why it's important to consider other alternatives first.If you have the surgery perfomed it involves cutting the toes back to the first knuckle. Having your cat declawed should be an action of last resort! But, when you are fed up ... you're fed up ... and surgery might be your only answer.

Here are some alternatives to declawing your cat that you may want to consider:

  • One of the easiest ways to prevent a cat from scratching is by providing him with scratching post or pad. There are many different types of scratching posts to choose from. Some are very elaborate and are built like a cat condo. If you are handy, you can also make your own simple scratching post using a 2' high section of a 4" x 4", attached to a 2' x 2' piece of 3/4" plywood, and a carpet remnant. Once you have a scratching post, you have to decide where to place it. The best place to put it is right beside his favorite piece of furniture. After he gets in the habit of scratching his post, you can try moving it further from the furniture, just do so gradually.


  • If the scratching post doesn't do the trick, try using a pet repellant spray (i.e., Bitter Apple) on the furniture. (It is typically recommended that you spray a small amount on a hidden part of the upholstery first to be sure it doesn't discolor the fabric.) If you don't want to risk spraying your furniture, try covering the fabric with double-sided tape or tape that is sticky side up, or even aluminum foil. Your cat will not care for the feel of either of these materials and should willingly turn to his scratching post instead.


  • Some people find that using nail caps works for them but a common problem with using caps is that they do tend to fall off and will need to be replaced on occasion. The caps are applied in a similar manner to the way manicurists apply fake nails. Their nails are shortened and then the caps are applied with a nontoxic adhesive.


If none of these options seem to work and your cat insists on scratching and clawing at your furniture, having him declawed may be the only option. As long as your cat does not leave the house, declawing should be safe for him. This procedure is painful, however, and there is always some risk involved with any type of surgery and undergoing anesthesia.

We hope this article has provided possible solutions to saving your furniture. Since pets are such a big part of our family, you want to be able to welcome them into the entire house. Take time to love and enjoy them; they will spend hours giving affection back! 



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