Life & LifestyleAll Things Pets

Cats Need Their Claws!

One of the most informative and enlightening articles I’ve come across is by Gary Loewenthal, an animal rights champion. In it, he says: “Claws are involved in almost everything a cat does during her waking hours.”

Scratching is an instinctual behavior in all felines, Loewenthal reminds us. Cats use their claws to energize and tone their upper body upon wakening — good morning, scratching post! — snagging that toy during playtime, running up the stairs, gripping a narrow catwalk, jumping onto a perch, and even steadying themselves upon a soft surface while grooming, not to mention defending themselves if attacked.

So why do Americans continue to torment our feline fur babies with this archaic practice? Did you know that in many countries, it is illegal to declaw a cat?

Most people think declawing is a benign practice. This is not only false, but also entirely unnecessary.

Declawing is harmful. It’s a serious operation involving ten amputations to the bone, leaving a cat without the end of her front paws. And it is extremely painful. Some complications can maim a cat for life.

Scratching is one of a feline’s most essential necessities in life. Cats need to scratch to release stress. This activity affirms territory, serves to exercise the upper body, and is even needed for proper litterbox usage. Claws are an essential requirement for both walking and balance.

It is no wonder some cats develop serious behavior problems due to declawing.

I and many experts say: Just don’t do it!

There are alternatives to ruined furniture. Make that furniture less appealing to your cat by training it to use a good-quality scratching post. Sisal is the best material, and many posts are made from it. Always place the scratching post near sleeping areas so kitty will scratch there upon awakening from naps and in the morning. Also, set it near the entrance to a room where cats can mark their arrival by scenting the post.

Use SofaSavers. They are clear plastic protectors that attach to the base of the couch or chairs (some sofa protectors are made of sisal, as well).

Keep your kitty’s nails trimmed. Or buy Soft Claws, which are clear, vinyl nail covers that fit over the kitty’s claws. You can also mix some lemon, grapefruit, and lime essential oils in water and squirt it on the areas you don’t want your cat to scratch.

If scratching somewhere forbidden does occur, you can try a spray bottle of plain water with a firm “NO.” Don’t yell it! And make sure kitty doesn’t know the squirt came from you, or she’ll be mad at you and not associate the spraying with the scratching. Then distract her with a toy or treat near her scratching post. Afterward, praise her and pet her when she scratches there.

Your precious fur babies depend on you for their care. You give them love and attention and do what’s best for them for the duration of their life. Please don’t let them down.

For more information and an excellent directory of other sites on this topic, go to


Laura Sutherland

Laura Sutherland is the owner of WAG-n-TRAIN pet services, East Dallas’s premier pet care provider. Laura is insured, and a member of the Professional United Petsitters (PUPs).

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