With 88 million cats taking advantage of the way we humans find them absolutely irresistible, Americans are no strangers to the odd shredded couch cushion, torn drapery, or ruined carpet. The fact of the matter is: Cat’s scratch. Sometimes it may feel like they scratch to spite us, but in truth scratching is a natural, healthy practice for felines who, even after over 7000 years of domestication, have not physically evolved much since their days in the wild. Pasha Diamond, Wendy’s rescued Russian Blue, is as sweet as a saucer of milk despite the sharpness of his claws, and it is through compassion and trust that they have built a system that allows him to feel like a courageous cat without wreaking havoc on the sofa.
First and foremost, we as humans need to understand that scratching is natural behavior for cats. It not only sharpens their claws, but also strengthens their muscles, keeps their joints healthy, and is used to mark their territory. So, next time you find your feline friend making his mark on your furniture know that he is doing it as a way to say, “I’m Home, and you’re safe here.” In fact, when a cat scratches in addition to making a lovely visual representation of their territory, they are also secreting hormones from the scent gland in their paws that will alert others to their presence. Again, this is a completely natural practice and one that is vital for your cat’s mental well-being. Aside from keeping your tiger in tiptop fighting condition, scratching just feels plain good; how can you say no to that?
For those among us want to indulge their cats without killing their couch, know that declawing is NEVER an option. The practice is strictly inhumane; to the extent that it has been made illegal in Europe – and we know the Europeans are always light-years ahead of us! Declawing your Cat is NOT like cutting their toenails. The claws are a vital part of the cat’s anatomy and they are closely adhered to the bone in the joints of their toe. In fact, they are so closely adhered that in order to declaw a cat one must completely remove the first joint of their toe. This is indescribably painful and has long term consequences for the health of the animal’s joints and bones with the risk for secondary complications like infection adding to the trauma. Additionally, the treatment may result in the cat refusing to use it’s litter box as the litter is incredibly painful on their healing paws – a habit that may prove irreversible.
Aside from the physical maiming of the cat, declawing also comes with a host of psychological demons. A declawed cat is no cat at all. Claws are essential for balance, mobility, and defense –the hallmarks of the life of a healthy cat. A lack of claws will make a cat feel nervous and insecure at best, and at worst will encourage incredibly aggressive behavior like biting and hissing.
With the lazy and cruel option of declawing off the table, mitigating the effects of cat scratches in the home is a process that calls for patience, compassion, and the proper materials. As a first line of defense, you may consider trimming your cats nails, it is humane but the cat is not likely to pleased with the process. In order to build your cat’s tolerance for a manicure, make a paw massage part of your daily routine, being sure to get your cat comfortable with you touching every inch of their appendages. Once you have build up this trust proceed by clipping just the clear tips of the nail with a human toenail clipper. Anything pink is living tissue and contact with these parts of the nail will be excruciatingly painful for your cat so be careful, confident, and calm! A further option is to invest in SoftPaws. This product provides a vinyl coating that slides over your cat’s pre-trimmed nails rendering them useless against your carpet, couch, and curtains. Of course, these scratch-solvers are only applicable to indoor-only cats, as their outdoor brethren need their nails functioning at full capacity in order to feel safe, stave off danger, and navigate the great, big world.
If tampering with nature isn’t your style, there are still ways to build an environment in which both your cat and your couch feel secure. A good scratching post, complete with a rough surface (tree trunks make the ideal scratching posts to give you an image) is absolutely necessary in any cat’s home. A good post will allow your cat to stretch his entire length against its surface and will be stable and secure. And one just isn’t enough! Placing scratching posts around the house, especially near your cats favorite items of furniture will encourage them to divert their clawing attention towards a more appropriate venue and will spare you the headache of reupholstery. Finally, Cats are averse to citrus smells, so invest in a non-toxic, all natural scented spray and protect your belongings with the powers of lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits. Your house will smell great and your living room will thank you!