From The Complete Cat’s Meow: Everything You Need to Know about Caring for Your Cat by Darlene Arden, a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant:
The declawing procedure is painful for your cat. Even if a veterinarian uses a laser and the cat can walk sooner, your cat can’t really be comfortable with part of its toes missing, especially since cats walk on their toes first. This means that your cat is in pain and has to walk differently, rather than in its normal manner.
Most cat parents have their cats declawed for the same reason: Cats scratch furniture (and very often anything else they can handle!). There are far better solutions to this problem – solutions that won’t hurt the cat or affect the way she enjoys the rest of her life.
When our precious Prissy was alive (all 20+ years!), buying new furniture was completely out of the question. That girl never met a couch or chair she didn’t like. She was convinced each and every piece of furniture was an elaborate scratching post for her! My daughter Stephany would help the situation by keeping Prissy’s nails clipped – a procedure that the ever laid-back cat actually enjoyed. Prissy never scratched walls or woodwork, but furniture was in constant danger.
I did, finally, find a way to throw salt in her game: I placed throws over the sides of the sofa – her favorite spots. I also started buying her scratching posts and placed them near her favorite spots.
With Alexa, it’s a little different. She seems to understand that furniture is for sitting on. She enjoys few things more than curling up on the sofa with her mom and dad as we all enjoy a game of baseball (or whatever it is we’re watching at the time). Alexa’s weakness is door frames. I’m having trouble convincing her that these weren’t placed in the house solely for her enjoyment.
She’s not buying it.
I’ve found a way to outsmart the little smarty pants, though, and it’s AGAIN with scratching posts. I’ve placed one near her favorite place to scratch and, now, when she’s in the vicinity, she uses the scratching post instead.
If you’re trying to lure your cat away from scratching furniture or wood, use a good, sturdy scratching post – preferably one treated with catnip. If the scratching post doesn’t come with its own catnip, buy a package and make the scratching post more enticing for your cat yourself.
Also, it probably goes without saying but Alexa, Hannah, Jelly Bean, and Queen Fatima want me to say it anyway: Cats cannot be treated as dogs or children when it comes to discipline. Remember their ancestors are lions, tigers, cheetahs, etc… how responsive do you think this DNA is to “NO!” or, worse yet, swats to the backside?!?! They’ll simply think you’re mean and will perceive you as a threat. Cats don’t even like yelling. They simply aren’t wired to be disciplined in this manner.
However, many cat parents have had success with spritzing a tiny bit of water (something cats detest) on their cats when they’re involving themselves in unsuitable behavior. I’ve never done it, myself, but many say that their cat comes to associate scratching on furniture with the unpleasantness of spritzed water.
Personally? I’d be afraid that, yet again, my cat would come to perceive me as a threat or as a meanie! Maybe if you were somehow able to do it without them seeing you? I’m not really sure. I do know this, though: Cats are very, very bright and it wouldn’t take them long to realize when scratching was safe and when it wasn’t. After all, what they’re doing is as natural to them as scratching an itch is to us. I’m convinced that the best solution for all is simply to give the cat an alternative: A sturdy, safe, scratching post.
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