Talk to the claw (to end declaws)


Are your cat scratch conversations up to scratch? When clients complain about their rat-a-tat-tatty furniture turn the talks toward a paws-itive perspective that offers solutions to soothe kitty's natural inclinations.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners created the Cat Friendly Practice program to provide clinics with the tools to integrate a feline perspective in both the physical environment of the practice and the way medical care is delivered. It equips practices with the tools, resources and information to elevate the treatment, handling and overall healthcare of cats, as well as emphasizes ways to reduce the stress associated with the visit. To learn more, visit: 

Sick of cl-awful conversations about kitty's reign of terror against the curtains, the carpet and the couch? Ready to save kitty from the pain of a declaw procedure? Ilona Rodan, DVM, DABVP, specialty in feline practice, behavior consultant, associate at Cat Care Clinic (a Gold status Cat Friendly Practice) and co-chair of the CFP Committee, offers these sample responses to common scratching questions:

Why does my cat use her claws in acts of terrorism against my stuff?

It can be frustrating and even expensive if your cat scratches furniture or carpets. But scratching is a normal cat behavior. Instead of trying to get a cat to stop scratching, redirect her to a scratching post or cat tree that's acceptable to you-and your cat!

Cats scratch for a variety of reasons. For example, scratching is a means of communication between cats, leaving both scent and visible markers that this is their territory. Scratching also keeps the nails well groomed, removes the old nail sheaths and also allows the cat to stretch her muscles.

But I bought her a primo scratching post. Why does she ignore it and shred the sofa legs instead?

Most cats like to scratch vertically and need a post that's taller than their body length so that they can fully stretch and give a good scratch. If your cat is scratching carpet, use horizontal scratchers. The texture of the scratching posts is also important. Many cats prefer sisal rope, others prefer corrugated cardboard or carpet on the scratching post.

If your cat is scratching on furniture or carpet, don't punish. Instead, pay attention to your cat's position when scratching and the texture of the material to identify better choices for scratching posts for your cat. Place the post next to the furniture being scratched and reward your cat for using it. You may need to try multiple scratchers with different types or textures before learning your cat's preference.

Location is important. Cats prefer a scratching surface that's in a prominent area of the room, such as near the sofa. Some cats also scratch near a door or window to leave their scent or to “freshen it up” when new scents enter the home-usually whenever we come in the door.

For more information on why cats scratch and how to get them to use scratching posts, check out these resources:

Brochure for cat owners on scratching and alternatives to declawing

> Webpage for cat owners on scratching and alternatives to declawing

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