As much as we adore them, it can drive cat lovers crazy to see their beloved feline claw at their furniture. Cats are capable of precious snuggles, amazing acrobatics, and hilarious antics but watching furniture get torn to shreds is not fun! 

Of course, clawing is a completely natural behavior for cats. According to PAWS, cats will scratch at furniture, carpet, and other objects for numerous reasons, such as to remove the dead outer layer of their claws, to mark their territory by leaving a visual mark and scent (cats have scent glands on their paws), as well as to stretch their bodies and paws. Unfortunately, for some inexperienced guardians, a cat’s need to claw might drive them to return or abandon their new feline. 

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70 percent of shelter cats end up being killed including strays, feral and surrendered cats, so it’s important we keep cats happy and safe in their home by any means possible, and keep them out of shelters. So, if your cat is scratching at furniture and other items in the house, here are some tips for how to deter them.

Cat Trees and Scratching Posts 

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Although I don’t live with a cat (I do have two very awesome rescue dogs, though), I do foster cats and I’ve invested in a cat tree so that the foster cats will have a place to scratch that is all their own (and of course, they love to lay and play on the cat tree!).  Scratching posts are another great investment. You may want to consider offering different materials like carpet, sisal, wood, and cardboard, as well as different styles (vertical and horizontal). You can use toys and catnip to help entice your cat into using them for scratching.

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If your kitty has an appropriate outlet to get their scratching out, they are less likely to terrorize other less desirable targets.

Use Special Tape

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If even with the cat tree and the scratching post, your cat still prefers your sofa for scratching, don’t worry, there are still ways to deter them. There is a special tape, such as Sticky Paws, that you can place on furniture to deter your cat away from scratching. It’s safe for furniture, as well as drapes and carpets.

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Trim Your Cat’s Nails

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Trimming your cat’s nails is important for maintaining their health. The ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States both offer detailed tips for how to trim your cat’s nails, but if doing it yourself is out of the question (personally, I wouldn’t even attempt it for fear they would bite or scratch me!), many groomers will trim a cat’s nails, as well as veterinarians. Trimming your cat’s nails is also a humane and effective alternative to declawing a cat.

Whatever You Do, Please Don’t Declaw

While removing a cat’s claws may seem like an easy, harmless way to avoid scratches or damaged furniture, this practice is actually extremely harmful to one of our favorite four-legged friends and the process is far more serious than cat guardians may perceive.

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Declawing is not a manicure. Declawing, also known as onychectomy, is performed across veterinarian offices across the United States, despite growing awareness of the practice as inhumane. Most people think that declawing just involves pulling a claw out which, if you can imagine having all of your fingernails yanked out, is frankly, awful enough. Declawing is actually 10 separate amputations of the last bone and nail in each toe. If performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle, warns the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

These procedures risk long-term lameness and behavioral problems, including making it less likely for a cat to use the litter box or more likely to bite. Declawing also can cause lasting physical problems for your cat. Side effects of declawing include pain in the paw, infection, tissue necrosis (tissue death), lameness, and back pain. Removing claws changes the way a cat’s foot meets the ground and can cause pain similar to wearing an uncomfortable pair of shoes. There can also be a regrowth of improperly removed claws, nerve damage, and bone spurs.

For those of us who love cats enough to have one (or more) in your home, please love them for what they truly are – claws and all. They shouldn’t be penalized for doing what comes naturally. Instead, love their wild side and give them more options that are acceptable.

Do you have any tips for deterring a cat from scratching furniture or other items in the house? Leave a comment below to share with other cat lovers! For more information on how to keep your cat happy and healthy, check out the below articles.

Lead image source: stratman/Flickr