The back of your favorite chair, the arm of your expensive couch; kitties with a serious hankering for claw sharpening seem to have a sixth sense about scratching the particular piece of furniture—or rug—that will drive you to the edge of frustration.
Claw sharpening is perfectly normal feline behavior. Cats do it primarily to shed the outer layer of their claws, mark their territory, and stretch their paw muscles. But what’s a cat guardian to do about it? Well, because it’s perfectly normal, you’re not going to stop the scratching altogether, but you can train your cat away from your furniture and toward a scratching post of her own with several techniques:
Scratching posts, scratching posts, scratching posts
Purchase a few, or several, kitty scratching posts or cardboard boxes and place them near where your cat naps or enjoys a good scratch. Make post or boxes more enticing by sprinkling some catnip on top, and encourage use by picking your cat up and placing him next to one when you sense he might start to sharpen his claws.
Some cat guardians have success with sprays, like No-Scratch and Feliway. No-Scratch is an herbal spray that replaces your cat’s scent with an unpleasant one, potentially discouraging your cat from returning to a favorite scratching spot. Feliway is a spray containing a feline pheromone that calms nerves. This can sometimes help cats with obsessive clawing behavior to calm down and not scratch quite so much.
Dr Johnson, a veterinarian on JustAnswer, recommends the above options to his clients, but wasn’t having success with posts or sprays for his cat at home. He opted for Soft Paws, a plastic nail that is glued on top of the claws to soften claw edges, so cats can scratch, but not damage, your furniture. Soft Paws last for about 4-6 months. Another way to soften nails, although more labor intensive, is to keep your cat’s claws short by trimming them every 10 to 14 days.
And, as always, all pet behavior modification techniques should be coupled with rewards for good behavior. So when your kitty finds her way to her cardboard box, instead of your chair, don’t forget the treats and the cuddles.