Attention all cat owners: Cats scratch. It’s what they are hardwired to do. Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Theresa DePorter says on my national Steve Dale’s Pet World radio show that the intent of cats is not to destroy our furniture, but rather to communicate visually and via scent with one another.
Even Dr. DePorter says that she has given up her laundry basket to her cat.
Dr. DePorter is no fan of declaw, which is the removal of the cat’s last digit (and each claw) in a surgical procedure called an onychectomy.
There are many things we can do to encourage appropriate patterns of behavior, including offering a three-foot-tall (or higher) secure and stable post. Also, provide an area where the cat likes to scratch. Encourage your cat to scratch there, offering treats and praise when she scratches in the right place.
Another tool for cat owners (this one is new) is called Feliscratch. Feliscratch uses a semiochemical (pheromone) message to help attract cats to their posts. The product should be applied to the scratching posts (not on your cat). Catnip is also in Feliscratch, and the blue colored dye (applied so it looks like another cat has scratched there), all combine to encourage what you want: a cat scratching at the post. If the cat scratches at a desirable place, it’s less likely she’ll scratch at an undesirable place. Make the places you don’t want your cat to scratch uncomfortable for her. You can do this by placing an upside down plastic chair runner or double stick tape (a manufactured version of that is called sticky paws) over the areas the cat has clawed.