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Destructive Scratching by Cats

Destructive Scratching by Cats

Destructive scratching is a common cause of frustration for cat owners. Cat scratching is normal feline behavior that serves to mark and claim territory and also helps cats to stretch their muscles and tendons and remove the husks of old nails.

Some veterinarians feel that declawing is a safe procedure to remedy this complaint, while others feel it is inhumane and painful. The process involves removal of the last digit as well as the claw. Alternatives to declaw surgery are often effective and include: scratching posts, deterrents (both physical and chemical), environmental measures such as reducing stress and territorial squabbles, nail covers and nail trimming.

Scratching posts should be at least three feet tall (to allow the cat to fully stretch), kept in prominent locations near where the scratching behavior occurs, covered with rough fabric such as burlap and stable enough that the cat cannot knock them over. Deterrent agents include mothball aerosol spray, Boundary pet deterrent spray or plastic sheeting to cover valuable objects. Smaller objects such as table legs can be covered with double-sided tape, and larger objects can be covered with contact paper (sticky side up). Many cat owners have success with nail covers (Soft Paws), plastic caps which are glued on or with frequent nail trims to reduce damage caused by scratching. Destructive scratching is a behavior problem which can often be easily managed.

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Dr. Borns-Weil says...

Dr. Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM, DACVB

Dr. Borns-Weil, DVM, DACVB

Board-Certified Animal Behaviorist

Destructive scratching is a common cause of frustration for cat owners.

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