Tips for Stopping the Cat Claws without Removing Them

Help!  Cats in Curtains 101

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“Look how high I can climb!”

If a new kitten or adopted adult cat made their way into your home and heart this holiday season, hopefully they are being well-behaved and keeping their claws out of your sofa.

Still, cats will be cats, and curtains, pant legs, and tablecloths may prove too tempting for kitty to resist if you don’t take measures to discourage this behavior.

Cats scratch for many reasons. Other than sharpening their claws, it is a way to mark their territory, stretch, and greet each other.

While these are perfectly normal cat behaviors, they may not fit well with your new sofa, especially since cats usually return to the same place to scratch.

Lucky for all involved, there are several easy and inexpensive tricks of the trade that well hopefully help Tigger’s claws elsewhere.

For the new additions to your home:

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What? It’s only natural for me to scratch.

Place 2 to 3 scratching posts in your cat’s favorite playing and sleeping spots. Yes, but two or three. They are much cheaper than replacing your window treatments. I would even recommend different kind of posts to experiment with. Cats are picky creatures; accept it and do as they please. It’ll be worth the purrs and snuggles.

How to get them to scratch?
For kittens and adults that have just arrived, it is important to remember that cats are independent creatures, especially when they are just getting to know you. Hand-forcing their paws to scratch on scratching posts is a waste of time.

Instead, encourage scratching by dangling TOYS near or over the post.

sick cat symptoms, ask a vet, online vet, 24/7 vetSprinkling CATNIP works like magic for many feline addictive personalities.

For all cats and kittens alike:

Avoid punishing them or scolding them for scratching in an inappropriate location. This may decrease the amount your kitty scratches while you are home, but they will likely just scratch away in your absence. Yelling or scolding may actually cause and anxiety and encourage destructive behavior, such as inappropriate urination or aggression.

Even if you hate your couch and don’t care if it’s further destroyed by your cat, don’t allow this behavior. One day you may (hopefully) get an upgrade that you wish to remain claw free

Food-motivated kitties may also enjoy being rewarded with food after appropriate scratching.

For continual scratching problems from the most stubborn of felines:

Cover the area they like to scratch with a large thick plastic so it is less texturally tempting. Inconvenient? Yes. You won’t have to do it forever though. Just to break the habit.

To help assuage your feisty feline into accepting a scratching post, consider using similar fabric to their favorite scratching items. Want to really trick ‘em? Many stores offer fabric swatches for free of couches. Collect several, dust with catnip, and super glue to a post next to the favorite spot!

Still not working? There are noninvasive, ie. nonsurgical, options available! Try Soft Paws or another synthetic covering that slips over the claw like a silicone glove and stays put with a dab of glue (and an extra hand). Thought my Neffler didn’t appreciate these when he arrived into my house as an adult, it broke his scratching habit and made us a much more happy household. Struggling with getting these on?  Ask a vet or vet tech to give you a demo.

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How have you dealt with the cat claws?  Share your helpful tricks you have learned over the years!

Dr. Laci


Dr. Laci Nash Schaible, DVM

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January 5, 2011 at 19:54

Best way to prevent cat claws trouble? Getting a dog instead! ;-)

January 6, 2011 at 14:07

Yes Jana, that would be 100% effective. :-) I love cats too, but don’t hold it against me!

January 5, 2011 at 23:05

I find that it helps to keep the kitty claws trimmed as well, at least when it comes to preventing myself from getting scratched in the process of playing with kitties.

We don’t yell if they scratch where they shouldn’t, merely give them a warning buzzy noise and a gentle No, then redirect/distract them.

January 9, 2011 at 13:54

Redirect and distractions are great advice. Our felines are adults and don’t play as much but I do remember those kitty play sessions where my hands ended up rather wounded!

Thanks for reading and commenting!