Cat Scratching

Cat Scratching

Your cat is scratching your favorite chair, your new drapes, or your expensive oriental rug! Don’t throw your cat out with the dogs. It’s just doing what comes naturally. Like their ancestors, house cats scratch objects to mark off their territory and to sharpen their claws.

How to Stop Cat from Scratching

To correct a clawing problem, place a scratching post near the object being damaged. The post should be longer than your cat because stretching to full length is part of the scratching process. Rub some catnip on the post as an incentive for your pet. If you catch your cat scratching the furniture, a squirt from a water pistol and a firm “No!” will stop it. Move your cat to the scratching post and place its front legs and claws on the post. When your cat uses the post, reward it with a food treat, a kind word, or gentle petting. You can also try trimming your cat’s nails weekly.

If all else fails, consider having your cat’s front claws surgically removed. Declawing is necessary only if your cat is using its claws on people or destroying your home furnishings by refusing to use a scratching post. A cat is not damaged physically or emotionally by declawing. but it may still think the front claws are present. For instance, your cat may go through the usual scratching motions (thought to be a way of removing worn nails) when it gets up in the morning.

Because it is used to having claws in front, your cat may make dangerous mistakes. It might try to use its now helpless front paws for defense, instead of its back claws and teeth. Some owners, if their cat plays outdoors, tolerate damage to furniture because there would be a greater chance of their cat falling from a tree if it had only its rear claws.

Discuss your feelings with your veterinarian, talk to friends and neighbors who have cats, and then make your decision. Declawing can be done at any age, but there is less stress when it is performed on a young cat. The times of neutering and spaying (five to six months of age) are good. Many veterinarians recommend that only the front claws be removed because the back claws rarely damage furniture.

Declawing is a surgical procedure. General anesthesia is used for the operation because the claws and the area from which they grow (basal germinal cells) are removed. Some doctors suture the digits afterward. The paws should be kept bandaged for two or three days after surgery.

Most cats recover remarkably well from this operation. A few cats are tender for a week or two after surgery; they may touch their paw slightly to the ground or occasionally hold one up. When the bandages are removed. Use shredded newspaper with just a few granules of kitty litter in the litter box for one week after surgery. This will reduce the chances of irritation or infection while the paws are healing.

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