When the cats start scratching the furniture, declawing is often the first thing that comes to mind, but there are many less radical alternatives to this sometimes dangerous and debilitating operation. While for some cats the choice is truly between declawing and surrender to a shelter, many other cats can learn to respect the furniture and claw only appropriate objects. It certainly pays to give these alternatives to declawing a try.
One of the most important things cat owners can do is introduce the cats in their lives to scratching posts, climbing poles and other appropriate scratching surfaces as soon as possible. Making these surfaces even more attractive by rubbing them with catnip is a great idea as well, as is placing the front paws on the surface and miming a scratching motion. Most kittens and many older cats will get the idea right away.
Of course providing good alternatives to scratching your favorite couch, chair or set of curtains is only half the battle. The other half involves training the cat to avoid scratching those surfaces. One of the handiest inventions for this purpose is a simple piece of adhesive plastic with a sticky surface. This special tape is applied to the furniture or other surface, and when the cat tries to scratch his or her paws stick. Cats dislike this intensely, and they quickly learn to avoid the source of their discomfort.
If it is possible to catch the cat in the act, a quick squirt from a spray bottle or spray gun can do the trick. This method uses the cat’s natural aversion to water to your advantage. This method works not only for unwanted claw sharpening but for keeping cats off the furniture, stove and other surfaces as well.
If all else fails, there may be yet another alternative to surgical declawing cat owners can try. Many pet stores and veterinary offices carry special nail tips which can be placed over the claws of the cat. These nail tips go on just like artificial fingernails, and they prevent damage when the cat performs its natural claw sharpening. These tips can last for months, needing to be put back on or replaced only after the cat’s claws have grown enough to dislodge them.
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