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Ask A Vet: How Do I Get My Cat To Stop Scratching Things?

The declawing alternative, Soft Paws

Welcome to our weekly 'Ask a Vet from the SF SPCA' feature on 7x7.com. They've enlisted their Co-President, Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, to answer your questions every week. Got a question for Dr. Scarlett? Ask away in the comments!

Q: Our cat is scratching the heck out of our new furniture. We have several deterrents such as bubble wrap, aluminum foil, repellent spray, scratch pads etc... Are there any "humane" ways to declaw?

A: Try Soft Paws–the cat equivalent of the 80s sensation, Lee Press On Nails (they come in colors)!  Though Lee Press On Nails were purely for aesthetics (as were the giant shoulder pads and teased hair), what you are talking about here have an actual purpose. Soft Paws are safe remedy for cats who love to sharpen their claws on furniture.  Some cats will walk funny for a couple of minutes after putting them on because they feel a bit weird, but the caps are not painful and don’t damage the toe or nail.  Now, putting these little buggers on your cat’s nails is a bit difficult especially for those cats that hate having their nails trimmed. So, you may want to have your veterinarian put the first set on. (I distinctly remember gluing one of the caps to my finger once.)  On the up side, once they are on correctly they will last around 6 weeks.

There is also a product called Sticky Paws which is essentially large sheets of double sided tape. It is a really distasteful sensation for your cat when he tries to scratch on the sticky surface. Eventually, he will likely stop scratching all together. Just make sure the adhesive isn’t going to do damage to the furniture. Both of these products are widely distributed–you should be able to find them at your local pet store. I strongly discourage surgical declawing.  It is the equivalent of amputating your fingers at the first digit—yikes!  Besides keeping the nails trimmed short and/or Soft Paws/Sticky Paws, you can also try to train your cat to sharpen her claws on an appropriate place, like a scratching post. You can find information here on page four about how to encourage your cat to use a scratching post. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

While we can’t answer all of the questions here, please feel free to ask us during our Friday Twitter Ask the Vet Chat. Follow us at @SFPSCA. If your animal’s problem is of an immediate nature, please call your vet or you can reach the SF SPCA at 415-554-3030 to make an appointment.