While declawing your cat will keep your furniture from getting scratched up, it can have negative side effects for your cat, since it involves removing the last bones from their toes. These side effects include chronic pain in the feet and early arthritis. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to keep a cat who still has claws from scratching up your furniture. Here's how:
Clip your cat's nails regularly
Clipping your cat's nails on a regular basis serves two purposes. First, it reduces your cat's need to file down his or her own claws by scratching. Second, it reduces the amount that your furniture does get damaged if your cat does scratch, since clipped nails are not as sharp.
Clipping your cat's nails is pretty easy. Use regular human nail clippers, and position the nail into the clipper so that the clipper is facing up and down, rather than side-to-side. Be careful not to cut the nails too short. Look for the red line running down the center of the nail. This is a blood vessel, and it will bleed if you cut into it. Cut just in front of it.
Give your cat somewhere else to scratch.
Even when your cat's nails are trimmed, he or she will have some urge to scratch. By scratching, cats not only sharpen their nails, but also mark their territory and stretch their paws. You need to provide a scratching surface that's more appealing than your furniture, so your cat is driven to use it instead. A tall scratching post made from sisal is a good choice, since the tough texture appeals to cats. Sprinkle some catnip on the post when you first get it, and your cat will soon come to love scratching on it.
Make the furniture unappealing.
Make the furniture less appealing to scratch by spraying it with a mixture of water and bitter orange extract. You can find bitter orange extract at a health food store. Just a few drops in a bottle of water is enough. Cats find the scent unappealing, though it will smell quite nice to you. Spritz your furniture daily to keep the scent fresh. Keep in mind that you won't need to spray the furniture with this scent forever – just until your cat realizes the scratching post is more fun to use and makes that his or her primary scratching destination.
You don't have to choose between a healthy cat and intact furniture. By following the steps above, you can avoid declawing and keep your sofas looking like new.
For more information, contact My Pet's Vet Clinic or a similar location.