Why Do Cats Scratch?
All members of the feline family except cheetahs have retractable claws. When a cat is walking around, the claws are retracted and don't catch on anything. This is also partly why cats can be so stealthy.
The claws grow somewhat like human fingernails, but also will shed the outer sheath periodically, leaving a sharper claw beneath.
To aid in removing the sheaths, cats scratch, often by stretching up and pulling downward. This action also helps to stretch out the spine and leaves a scent mark.
Scratching is a natural and necessary behavior for cats.
You cannot teach them never to scratch. However, you can provide an adequate scratching surface and then teach them to scratch only on that surface.
It is very important to provide appropriate scratching opportunities for cats right from kittenhood, so they learn where and where not to scratch.
Scratching Posts, Nail Trimming & Other Options
We recommend trimming nails as frequently as necessary, training cats to use horizontal scratch pads or sturdy scratching posts (you must let them choose which they like better) and if desired, Soft Paws nail cap application.
For more information, visit one of these websites:
- Training Your Kitten To Use Scratching Posts
- ASPCA's Nail Trimming 101
- How To Trim Your Cat's Nails
- Feline Nail Trimming Guide
- Soft Paws
Feline Declaw Surgery
Cat declawing or onychectomy is the amputation of the last bone in each toe, usually on just the front paws. As a last resort, there are a few reasons that owners may consider declawing:
- Medical Conditions — it can be necessary to remove a claw if the claw is damaged beyond repair, causing great discomfort to the cat, or to treat advanced nail infections or cancerous growths.
- Behavioral Issues — When behavior modification methods such as scratching posts, nail clipping, and plastic nail tips fail to prevent cats from being destructive or causing injury to owners and family members.
- Owners with Suppressed Immune Systems — A cat's nails can cause trauma to those with suppressed immune systems, while people on blood thinners can't be exposed to the bacteria on a cat's claws.
If declawing is pursued, we recommend using a surgical facility that offers the procedure with the use of a surgical laser. This method often leads to fewer post surgical complications.