To Claw or Not to Claw...

Scratching is normal for a cat. It exercises the foot muscles and removes dead tissues from the nails. It also provides a soothing and comforting effect that creates a tranquil disposition. You can keep your cat from clawing your household goods by keeping their nails trimmed using the guide on this page. Studies show that 80% of cats whose nails are clipped will not continue to scratch. If you don't feel comfortable trimming his nails yourself, take him to a groomer or your vet.

If your cat continues to claw, the following tactics can be used to redirect his attention to a more appropriate behavior.

  1. Teach your cat to use a scratching post. When he begins to claw your furniture, move him to the post and move his paws on the post in a scratching motion to give him the idea. Leave the post in a place he likes to frequent or where he likes to take his naps. Many cats like a good stretch and scratch after a nap.
  2. Use plastic or wooden guards which can be attached to the edges of your sofa or chair. The cat's claws will slide right off and he will quit or look for his scratching post.
  3. Use double sided sticky tape on the edges of carpeting or furniture or wherever your cat is scratching. Cats hate to get their claws dirty or stuck. When the cat discovers that his claws do not slide right out, he will abandon that spot.
  4. Place a piece of aluminum foil over the spot on the furniture that your cat likes to scratch. On top of this place a clean rag soaked in a smell your cat hates. Common smells cats can't stand are perfumes, orange, lemon, peppermint, wintergreen, and oil of cloves. Leave this in place for a week or two, rescenting the rag periodically. Your cat will approach the area but will be repelled by the smell. The rag must stay in place long enough for the cat to learn that this is a permanent situation.
  5. Soft Paws are a commercial product. They are little plastic covers which slip over and are glued to the cat's nails. If your cat does scratch, no damage will occur to your furniture! They are effective for about 4 months before a new set needs to be put on.

What does not work well
Using a squirt bottle or making a loud noise to interrupt the unwanted behavior only seems to reinforce the fact that the cat shouldn't do the behavior when humans are around. It is better to use a method that works whether you are present or not.

Questions or comments about CVHS should be directed to [email protected]
© 1997 Cocheco Valley Humane Society