You and your cat both love your furniture, but while you prefer sitting, she thinks it makes a great scratching post. If your cat can't resist the urge to shred whatever she can get her claws on, trimming her claws is an effective deterrent to her destructive behavior.
Trimming Claws Helps
Trimming your cat's claws curbs the clawing habit and makes it less destructive when she starts scratching. When she's good and relaxed, press down on the main pad of her foot to extend her claws. Snip off the tips with a pair of cat nail trimming scissors, being careful not to cut through the visible vein in the claw. Unless you have a very well-behaved cat, it may take a few tries to finish all the claws, but it's faster and easier than buying a new living room set.
Case Against Declawing
If you're considering a permanent solution like declawing your cat, don't. While declawing is the only 100-percent effective method of stopping the scratching habit, it is also an invasive and controversial surgical procedure that can permanently disable your cat. It doesn't just remove the claws -- it actually removes some of her joints, which throws off her balance and mobility. The process itself is painful for cats and can result in health complications, so all in all, this procedure is probably more trouble than it's worth, for both you and your little loved one.
The Capping Method
If trimming her nails isn't effective enough for you, you can always cap them. Different pet product manufacturers produce tiny rubber nibs that attach to your cat's claws with a harmless adhesive. These caps prevent your cat from doing any real damage with her claws, and they generally last for four to six weeks. If you're apprehensive about capping the claws yourself, many groomers offer this service.
Of course, you can take steps to make your cat stop clawing without actually going anywhere near her claws. Behavioral training isn't foolproof, and it takes time, but it can keep you from having to give your kitty regular pedicures. When your cat starts scratching, introduce a deterrent, like a sudden, loud noise or a spritz from a squirt bottle. Eventually, she'll get the message: Clawing makes like unpleasant for everyone.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.