Last week’s Catster poll was “Declawing. What are your thoughts?”
I’ll spare you the declawing screed, and segue straight in to 8 steps you can take to render declawing unnecessary.
I’ve always felt that people who are too fussy about their “things” should maybe rethink having pets or kids. When hubby and I first consolidated our households and his nice leather sofas came to live with us, I was in a dither over whether or not the cats would shred them to pieces.
I needn’t have worried. Whether it was because the material wasn’t appealing to the cats as a scratching post, or because they were enticed by better alternatives, the sofas have survived unscathed. Yours can, too. Here are a few tips on how to win the battle of the scratchers.
1] Provide a sturdy untippable scratching post
Fluffy is unlikely to use a scratching post that tips over on her. The post you select should be strong and stable. Cheapo single-post scratchers with small bases are likely to be pulled back on top of your cat when she gets a really good scratch going, at which point she’s unlikely to use it again. PurrFect Posts are good examples of well-engineered scratching posts that won’t fall back on top of your cat.
Our cats have a couple of cat trees that are supported by four scratching-post columns. They’re impossible to tip, and they’re the favorite scratchers of three of our four cats.
2] Select a scratcher that fits your cat’s preferred scratching orientation.
Some cats prefer vertical surfaces; others prefer horizontal. Slanted 45-degree scratchers are also available. If your cat doesn’t take to one, try another orientation. Sprinkling the surface with catnip can entice them to use a new scratcher.
3] Find a scratching material that your cat likes.
Like orientation, cats also have preferences when it come to the scratching surface. Sisal, cedar, carpet and cardboard are the most common materials used in making scratchers. Sisal rope is easy and inexpensive to replace when it gets ratty. Even better, sisal material (looks like carpet) withstands years of scratching while still looking good as new, although you’ll pay a premium for it. Some cats will only scratch wood, in which case a wood-based scratcher is best. Cardboard scratchers are extremely popular with my cats. If you have multiple cats, an assortment of materials will ensure that everyone’s happy.
4] Is your post tall enough?
Generally, a scratching post should be tall enough for your cat to stretch out fully when scratching, since scratching and stretching go together. Unless your cat is extremely small, your post should be at least 28-inches high. Higher is better, but make sure it can’t tip when used.
5] Do you have enough scratchers?
Cats don’t just scratch to keep their nails in shape; they also mark their territory through scent glands in their paws when they scratch. If you have multiple cats or a large home, you need more than a single scratcher in the back bedroom. Distribute them throughout the house. And, if a scratcher is not getting used, try relocating it.
6] Consider nail caps
Nail caps (like SoftPaws) are a miracle solution to the scratching problem. They allow cats to continue scratching behavior with no damage done to the scratching surfaces.
Developed by a veterinarian, nail caps are small soft plastic tips that fit over Fluffy’s nails. They are super-glued on. Honestly, unless your cat is very placid, it’s easier to have a groomer apply the caps. It’s not difficult to do, but in my experience, it requires two people – one to hold the cat, and one to apply the caps. When finished, the cat must be held still for at least ten minutes while the glue dries (an Elizabethan collar helps with this phase). Once dry, the caps will stay in place for about six weeks. Bonus: they come in fanciful colors as well as clear. DO NOT put nail caps on cats who go outdoors, since, like declawing, it leaves them defenseless.
Nail caps are especially good for reducing the incidence of injuries from cat scratches. If you have young children and/or your cat tends to play rough, nail caps ensure that you’ll make fewer ER visits.
7] Deter scratching with tapes and sprays.
There are tapes (Paws Away, for example) that specifically deter cats from scratching sofas, stereo speakers and other furniture. Cats hate the sticky surface, and avoid taped areas.
Herbal sprays like No Scratch can also act as a deterrent.
8] Try Feliway to reduce the urge to scratch.
Feliway uses calming, analogue pheromones (structurally similar to feline facial pheromones) to reduce instinctive urges to mark and scratch. Click here for info on how to get a free sample and a coupon for $10 off a Feliway diffuser.
[PHOTOS: Drs. Foster and Smith; PurrFect Post; softpaws.com; Drs. Foster and Smith.]
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