Most cat owners do not see clawing as normal cat behavior, especially when cats get destructive.
If you want to know how to keep your cat’s nails in check, as well as how to discourage unwanted scratching habits, keep reading.
What do cats use their claws for?
Your cat uses its claws in everyday life. Cats use their claws to mark their territory, climb objects, or scratch as a way to strengthen their joints and muscles. They also scratch to scrape off old nails.
Cats use their claws to protect themselves from any external threats. Cats use their claws to capture and hold prey. Other cats scratch surfaces to relieve stress.
If your cat scratches your belongings, it is not done with malice. It is something cats do naturally to sharpen their claws.
How can I keep my cat’s claws dull?
There are ways to keep your cat’s claws dull without harming your cat. Here are some suggestions you can try:
1. Trim the claws.
Trimming your cat’s claws may seem like a daunting task, but the more you do it, the easier it will become.
Choose a quiet room to help your cat relax. It helps if the cat has just eaten and is full and sleepy. Make sure there are no other pets around.
Place your cat on your lap, and have it face away from you. Grab the cat’s paw between your thumb and index finger. Gently squeeze the paw until the nails are exposed. Use a special clipper, designed for cat’s nails, to snip just the white tip of the nail. Do not cut the pink part, called the quick, because it might injure the cat.
There are different types of cat nail trimmers, including scissor style, guillotine style, and pliers-style. You can ask your vet which one to use on your cat. But whichever type of clippers you use, make sure they are sharp. Blunt trimmers can cause pressure on the claw.
You can give your cat treats while trimming its nails to reward it for staying calm.
Start getting the cat accustomed to nail trimming as a kitten. Cats should get their claws trimmed every 10 to 14 days to ensure that the claws do not grow too long and curl into the footpad.
2. Apply plastic nail caps.
Commonly called soft paws, these are tiny plastic caps that fit onto your cat’s claws. They are attached using an adhesive.
These plastic caps have rounded edges so that your cat’s scratching does no damage to your furniture. They are great if you have young children in your home and you are scared your cat might scratch them.
Soft paws are a great way to manage your cat’s claws if you do not have the time to trim them or to watch over your cat’s every move.
You can buy these plastic caps at your local pet store. Be sure to check once in a while for missing caps. You can replace them with new ones using the adhesive in the kit.
3. Get your cat a scratching post.
The outer sheath of a cat’s claw is removed when they use a scratching post. Buy a scratching post that is taller than your cat when it extends its body. Make sure it does not topple over easily.
A sisal scratching post has the perfect material texture that cats find exciting to shred. It is a durable fiber that will keep your cat’s claws filed with every use.
If your cat has not used a scratching post before, you might need to encourage your cat to start using it. Try putting a treat on top of the post.
Other Facts about Claw Trimming
Claw trimming may not work for senior cats.
An old cat’s claws tend to be greasy and grow thick and long. Instead of trimming, clean the claws with chlorhexidine solution.
Clean a cat’s paws regularly to remove unhealthy substances that stick between its paw pads. Keep your floors clean to keep your cat’s feet healthy.
Declawing is inhumane.
Declawing is the surgical removal of the cat’s claws. It is a barbaric procedure that removes the cat’s ability to defend itself.
Cats need their claws to perform daily tasks. The loss of their claws can cause cats stress and may make them resort to biting as self-defense.
Animal rights groups strongly oppose this practice.
How can I discourage unwanted scratching behavior?
A cat’s instinctual desire to scratch is what drives it to display destructive behavior. While you cannot stop your cat from scratching, you can train it by discouraging the behavior. The key is to be patient but consistent.
Physical punishment is a no-no; it only sows fear. Your cat will not understand the concept of a punishment.
Here are some tricks you can try to curb scratching behavior:
Put coins in a tin can, and each time your cat is scratching your furniture, give the can a shake. The loud noise will startle your cat enough that it stops scratching immediately.
Spray your cat’s favorite scratching areas with citrus-scented spray. Cats do not like the smell of citrus.
Apply double-sided tape all around your furniture to make it unappealing to your cat. The sticky tape will feel nasty on your cat’s paws, which will discourage them from scratching.
Keep your cat’s claws dull by trimming them every 10 to 14 days. You can put soft plastic nail caps over the claws to keep the cat from damaging your belongings. Get your cat a scratching post to help file down its nails naturally. Do not ever consider declawing your cat because it is inhumane.
You can use a can with coins inside as a noise distraction for when your cat is scratching the furniture. Spray the cat’s favorite things to scratch with citrus-scented spray. Put double-sided tape on the furniture to discourage the cat from scratching.
Image: istockphoto.com / LukyToky