Scratching is a natural behavior in cats. Not only is it a way for your kitty to stretch and keep their claws healthy, but scratching is also a marking behavior that allows a cat to stake a claim on a territory. In today’s post, we will discuss how to redirect your kitty’s natural scratching behavior to appropriate places and how to perform a feline pedicure!
Scratching posts and pads
If you want to protect your furniture and carpets from kitty nails, you’ll want to give your cat plenty of places she’s allowed to scratch. Most cats enjoy tall scratching surfaces, such as cat trees, because they can stretch out while scratching. Kitties have different substrate preferences, so you might have to do a little experimenting to figure out what your cat’s preferred fabric type is. The cheap corrugated cardboard scratchers are surprisingly popular with kitties, despite not offering any height for stretching.
In order to direct your cat’s scratching behavior to the proper places, you’ll want to entice her. If your kitty has begun scratching a specific piece of furniture, you’ll want to start by placing the scratching post or pad near the spot she’s been scratching. You can also entice her with catnip, which will make the post, tree, or scratch pad more appealing. Once she has decided that her new tree or post is the best place to scratch, you can gradually move it away from the
furniture to the place it will stay. Make sure to refresh the catnip scent periodically to keep your kitty interested!
Nail trim time!
Trimming your cat’s nails can seem daunting, but once you get the hang of it (and familiarize your kitty with the routine), it is something that can easily be done at home. The first step is to familiarize your cat with having her paws handled. Cats generally don’t like having their feet touched, so this could take some time. Make sure to provide some type of positive reinforcement, such as treats, canned food, or petting, and keep the sessions brief at first. As your cat becomes more comfortable with having her paws handled, gently squeeze and manipulate her toes. Once this is tolerated, you can begin learning to trim her nails!
Sit your kitty on your lap or somewhere else where she’s comfortable. If you think you might require help, don’t be afraid to ask a friend to cuddle your cat while you trim her nails! Gently grasp your cat’s paw in your hand and apply slight pressure to the joint just above her nail–this will extend the nail out so that the entire surface is visible.
Once the nail is visible, look for the quick. This is a pink area that extends from the nail bed downward. You’ll want to trim the nail a few millimeters below the quick to avoid causing your kitty any pain or bleeding.
If your cat gets anxious or restless during the process, stop. You want to make the experience as pleasant as possible for all parties involved. Make sure to include treats and cuddles into the routine to keep the experience as positive as possible. If you can only trim a nail or two a day, that is fine! Most kitties will require nail trims every three to four weeks, though growing kittens usually need them more frequently.
Marketed under the names Soft Paws and Soft Claws, nail caps are a great way to prevent your cat from causing damage when she scratches. They come in a variety of colors, and application is simple. To apply a nail cap, simply trim your cat’s nails as usual, then load the cap with a drop of glue and slide it over the nail. They last three to four weeks for most kitties, and they’re fashionable too!
While many cats can learn to tolerate nail trimming, we appreciate that some cats are difficult to handle. Most groomers and veterinary offices will perform a nail trim for a low fee, and will even patiently walk you through the process if you want to learn how.