The “3 D’s” to prevent your cat from scratching the furniture

The “3 D’s” to prevent your cat from scratching the furniture

by Maggie Sharp
(Hobart, Tasmania, Australia)

A great alternative - the dispacement method mentioned below - photo by aJ GAZMEN ツ GucciBeaR (Flickr)

A great alternative - the dispacement method mentioned below - photo by aJ GAZMEN ツ GucciBeaR (Flickr)

To those people who think it's okay to have your cat declawed just because it scratches the furniture, I have 2 things to say to you. 1) Keep reading. 2) You're insane.

I was looking around and came across an article written by Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff so I thought I'd share it. This posting is based directly on the recommendations of that article.

1. DETER scratching by using sprays and tape. The most common place to scratch is the corners of upholstered sofas and chairs. Tape such as Sticky Paws Strips makes it very irritating for a cat to scratch where the tap is and they will avoid it. This is because their paws are extremely sensitive to help detect prey through vibrations. Another deterrent is a herbal spray that replaces the territorial marker that is left behind on the scratched area. Cats tend to return the same area to reinforce the scent left behind and this deters that process. Both these deterrent are almost invisible but highly effective.

2. DISPLACE the area where your cat scratches. Providing alternatives to upholstered furniture such as well designed scratching posts will encourage your cat to scratch elsewhere. Note: from Michael (Admin): Certain kinds of furniture is much less attractive as an area to scratch. I use leather furniture which although is not guaranteed to prevent scratching is much less interesting which encourages the use of a better alternative such as a scratching post.

Certain types of scratching post or device can be selected to replace the area that is being scratched:

-- If the problem area is around door frames and/or the wooden legs of desks, you might consider a piece of cat furniture or a post made of cedar.

-- Alternatively, if your cat uses the upholstered sides of your couch or your best rug, you might select a carpeted cat tree or perch.

-- Sisal, a marine-grade rope that scratches back, is a feline favorite for many cats. There are many types. You might try a vertical post or tree.

A pinch or spray of catnip on the new scratching area encourages use of the scratching device.

See also Finn's thoughts on cat scratching posts

This is a post I made 2 years ago! on preventing damage to furniture. I have learnt more since but it is still useful, I feel.

3. DULL your cat's claws to minimise/eliminate damage. Trimming a cat's claws is a very effective way of achieving this. A good quality (veterinary-quality) clipper is recomended and perhaps your vet might show you how he or she does it. There are other devices that are safe to use (i.e. which prevent the risk of trimming too deep). One device is like a file, which abrades the claw rather than cuts it.

The paw should be gently squeezed to expose the claw. Cats who resist can sometimes be more accepting if wrapped in a soft towel or a product called a Klaw Kontrol Bag for safe restraint.

An alternative to trimming is sheathing the claws with, for example, Soft Claws Nail Caps which glue on easily. They last about 4-6 weeks and don't interfere with normal claw retraction/extension. Note from Michael (Admin): some people think that claw covers are not much better than declawing (Finn is one of those people and he says so here: Claw caps not really any better than declawing). The bottom line, though is that if they prevent a declaw they are successful. They are a kind of poor compromise, I think. The better technique is deter and displace, I feel.

Please remember the 3 D's to curb this problem. It might take a bit of training (reward based training is the only type) but it is the best, indeed only, way. Or like me you can just accept some damage and chill out about it.

4. DECLAWING IS NOT AN OPTION! (No, that wasn't in the article.). This is the fourth D and it is the bad one.

I hope those whom are considering declawing their cat, read this and know that declawing is cruel and there are alternatives.

Maggie


Hi Maggie... thanks very much for picking up these good tips. I modified the article to avoid any possibility of copyright issues. Thanks for being copyright aware by the way....Michael

From The "3 D's" to prevent your cat from scratching the furniture to Declawing Cats

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The "3 D's" to prevent your cat from scratching the furniture

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Feb 21, 2010 A cat is a cat... =)
by: Maggie Sharp

See, that's just rediculous, there's no difference between my pedigree Aby, and any other domestic cat... What about when these 'special' cats get bred like machines by the unresponsible breeders (keep away from them) and then dumped in a rescue centre... Is the cat still special...? I've actually met a cat in that situation. Her name was Angelina and she was a beautiful Burmilla and she was availible at our local rescue centre, I looked on the association's website for Burmilla breeders and I found one, on her rehoming page was Angelina. I just assume that she couldn't find a home, so she was dumped at the rescue centre. I've still got pictures of her from when I met her...

I don't care if a cat's a moggie or a pedigree, every cat is special, no matter what it's background is! What the lady should have said is that the only people who should breed cats are those whom are working to improve and develop a breed under the ethics of their association/registry... If someone gets into their mind that their cat is some-what better than others because it's a pedigree, well, I find that quite disturbing and wrong...


Feb 21, 2010 A cat is a cat... =)
by: Maggie Sharp

See, that's just rediculous, there's no difference between my pedigree Aby, and any other domestic cat... What about when these 'special' cats get bred like machines by the unresponsible breeders (keep away from them) and then dumped in a rescue centre... Is the cat still special...? I've actually met a cat in that situation. Her name was Angelina and she was a beautiful Burmilla and she was availible at our local rescue centre, I looked on the association's website for Burmilla breeders and I found one, on her rehoming page was Angelina. I just assume that she couldn't find a home, so she was dumped at the rescue centre. I've still got pictures of her from when I met her...

I don't care if a cat's a moggie or a pedigree, every cat is special, no matter what it's background is! What the lady should have said is that the only people who should breed cats are those whom are working to improve and develop a breed under the ethics of their association/registry... If someone gets into their mind that their cat is some-what better than others because it's a pedigree, well, I find that quite disturbing and wrong...


Feb 21, 2010 Breeders and showers
by: Jane A

Thank you for your explanation. I think what gets a lot of peoples backs up is that some people who breed or show pedigree cats think their cats are superior to ordinary cats.
For example there was a question on Yahoo Answers from someone who wanted her pet cat to have kittens.She was just a kid but she had some really nasty replies and one in particular who said what was special about her cat, it wasn't a pedigree, it hadn't won any shows, it shouldn't be allowed to breed so get it spayed.
Using the word IT made it clear that ordinary cats are only ITS,but I expect her pedigrees were HE and SHE.
At the bottom she put pedigree cat breeder and shower for so and so years.She got a lot of thumbs down.
But can you wonder with that attitude why a lot of people don't think much of breeders or showers ? A lot of people remember the bad about others, not the good.
To me and I think most others who love cats, every cat is as important and as special be it an ordinary cat or a pedigree cat.
For me I'm an ordinary person with ordinary cats and we all live a ordinary life and that suits us all fine.


Feb 20, 2010 To Jane
by: Maggie Sharp

The scabs, he said, were caused by either Chilli scratching himself, his mother carrying him around, or his litter mates playing with him. He also told me to clip his claws when I mentioned that Chilli was being aggressive towards my dog. He's been breeding for many many decades, and knows what he's talking about. Actually, I'm talking to him about what everyone's saying, he's quite upset that people believe this but I agree with him in saying that people believe what they want to believe. And I respect that. Not everyone will have the same opinions, and that's because we're all different people. And though I don't agree with you in what you say, that's possibly because I've had more experience in pedigree cats, and you've had more experience in rescues and moggies.

I've seen the bad side of breeders, which disgusts me and disturbs me, but there are good breeders out there, it's just a matter of finding them and proving that they're the best breeder. There's so many breeders out there who are looking for money (kitten mills, and BYB) and there are some people who are at shows for personal glory. Actually, some people will verbally abuse you if your cat goes better in a show than them, whereas other people are more laid back, and congratulate the other person and their kitty.


Feb 20, 2010 My opinion
by: Jane A

Can you please tell me Maggie,if Chilli's breeder is one of the best,how come the cat was covered in scabs?
Surely a reputable breeder wouldn't recommend cutting his claws to stop the poor creature getting some relief by scratching his itches.
He wouldn't rehome him in that state, he would be finding out from a reputable vet why the cat was covered in scabs.Fleas maybe?
I'm afraid I'm of the opinion that many breeders think more of the money they make than the cats themselves.
As for cat shows,the definition of "show" is "put on display" just like a shop with goods set out for people to look at. The cat is stuck in a cage,a stranger looks into his mouth and his ears and feels his body.None of it nice for the cat but the owner gets the recognition for their "perfect" cat.
What life is that for a cat?
Sorry but to me breeding and showing does not equate to loving cats.Loving cats means allowing them to enjoy life as cats.
They should not be status symbols.
I would never subject my cats to a life of 'displaying" them.


Feb 20, 2010 I don't even know you...
by: Maggie Sharp

Who the hell do you think you are? Talk to me when you've pulled your head of the ground, brushed yourself off and realised that I'm not some peice of dirt that can be thrown around by everyone. I've tried being reasonable, and have exceed what I actually consider as reasonable. But you will not. At least I can validate my opinions, not one other person here has done that what-so-ever.

You believe what you want to believe. Continue to do so, I don't care. People will believe rumours, but ignore the truth and now it's gone beyond the boundries. I've better things to do than listen to conformative know-it-alls blabber on with lies and negativity.


Feb 20, 2010 Last word
by: Rose

You have made it plain to all reading your comments that you are a child.
What are you DEAR? 14 maybe?
I have better things to do than playing 'get your own back' on a public website which is supposed to be devoted to cats.


Feb 20, 2010 You don't even know the slightest
by: Maggie Sharp

You're a hypocrite Rose, and I think you're very cluless as to what's going on. You don't even know my age and therefore have no right to pass judgement. I humby request that you put a stop to your hyprocrisy, as age is merely a number and I've as much right as you, and everyone else, to express my opinion. But when you insult me I will insult you back. It's the way the world works dear, get used to it.


Feb 20, 2010 Children should be seen and not heard
by: Rose

Maggie do us all a favour and come back and play with the big boys and girls when you can make a comment without having a childish tantrum if someone doesn't agree with you.


Feb 19, 2010 You're right
by: Maggie Sharp

Yes, you're right. If I was your age I probably wouldn't have been stupid enough to associate with you, what a big freakin' mistake that was! As my grandfather always said "Keep away from the Whining Poms!" Why didn't I listen!

Rose, urgh, I'm not even going to try. I'll go talk to a tree instead, that way I might be able to have a desent conversation!


Feb 19, 2010 This is getting boring
by: Babz

Come on folks, cut her some slack she's a kid, don't you remember getting all hotheaded when you were a kid and thinking you knew all the answers and anyone older and wiser was actually in their dotage. You have to actually be in your dotage to realise that when you thought you had all the answers in actual fact you didn't know the half of it.
Come back when you've got a few wrinkles on your forehead Maggie and then tell us what we should think and do, OK?

Barbara avatar


Feb 19, 2010 Get mad all you like but it doesn't convince me
by: Rose

Maggie you have shot yourself right in the foot.
You say...

And I'm going to be honest, it breaks my heart to see Chilli gazing out the window wanting to get out there, but he wouldn't last a minute out in the world, which is why I keep the world leashed!

And yet you say WE don't know what it's like to love your cat more than anything in the world.
Excuse me but I for one and I'm sure there are many more like me, would NOT be so selfish as to keep a cat where he couldn't have the freedom he so obviously longs for.
I am NOT impressed by people who keep cats to primp and bath,YES it IS un-natural to bath cats and then to be carted in cages to shows and trapped there to be gawped at by all and sundry.All this for the glory of the person showing off their cat.
Cats are not toys, they are beings iike us but born in a different guise, not to be used as toys or objects of gaining glory.
Let cats be cats!
My cats are happy cats living as cats love to live in their own surroundings with all the privacy they want and need.


Feb 19, 2010 To Carol and Rosie (Gee, I'm struggling to not get mad)
by: Maggie Sharp

The only reason people bath cats is for shows, there's nothing wrong with it, and it's been proven that it doesn't remove their natural oils. I'm not about to explain the amazing show bench to everyone, but I will say that someday I'll have cats up there, hopefully of my own breeding, please stop judging breeders when you only know the rumors, some of my closest friends are breeders and they would be heart broken to read what you've said. The thought that this is what you think of breeders is terrible. You clearly don't know what it's like to love a cat more than anything else in the world....


Feb 19, 2010 To Sue!
by: Maggie Sharp

WOAH! Where did you get that breeders make money from their cats? Sheesh! That's a harsh rumor which must be spread no further, I've been doing intense research on breeders for a looong time, and I can tell you that backyard breeders are indeed harsh cruel people, who do try to make money out of their cats are the heartless owners of kitten mills.

But, the breeders in which are good people breed for their love and passion of cats, they spend thousands of dollars every year on; toys, clean products, cat litter, cat food, food and water bowels, suppliments, vet bills of all kinds, hand-raising kitten equiptment, genetic tests, paper and ink to send off details and paper work, importing cats from other countries (Chilli's daddy was from NORWAY!!!) and so much more!!! Some breeders will even pay for de-sexing! So you can see that it's a LOT of money... Infact, because I couldn't meet Chilli's breeder in person it tookme six months of emails and phone calls to get myself approved of owning a kitten of their breeding, and even then I could tell he was hesitant to allow me to own his cats.

So please, don't say ALL breeders are bad, because they're not. I'll admit some are, but not all.... I can pick a bad breeder pretty easily, and I won't say I haven't seen some, but I will say that they're not too common...

I never said how you should own your cats, and I also never said that pedigrees were better than moggies. A cat is a cat, I just prefer pedigrees because I take interest in their genetics, and differences in comparision to other breeds....


Feb 19, 2010 To Babz
by: Maggie Sharp

The reason I was told to clip Chilli's claws is becuase he was scratching himself, he was covered in scabs when I got him and his breeder was very concerned. They didn't clip his claws, but recommended that I should do it to be on the safe side. The only other times that I clip his claws in when he goes to visit his girlfriend, Mae, she can get grumpy sometimes, and I know he could beat her in a fight if he tried, he's a big cat.

Just to let you know, I don't clip his claws all the time, once every 4 or 5 months at the least, or whenever he's being introduced to a new cat or animal. He doesn't seem to scratch himself anymore, but about a month ago he did scratch his chest pretty badly, and the swelled up and scabbed....

Chilli's breeders are one of the best, he cares about his cats more than anything in the world. He made me gaurantee that I would neuter Chilli, keep him indoors only, get all his vaccinations done etc. He even sent several genetic papers which my vet was very impressed with. He gets really disappointed when his cat owners don't keep in contact with him, and he loves seeing photos of my boy! So, he is my cat, but I must stick to my word, the breeder is the reason for Chilli's being, so the breeder does (to an extent) have some sort of responsability over Chilli... If that makes sense....


Feb 19, 2010 To Ruth
by: Maggie Sharp

From the first time I clipped his claws he never seemed to mind, but when I don't clip them he gets frustrated and chews them... He also seems to like me tickling his paws, I've had him purring like crazy from tickling his paws... I know he's got his mother amazing temperament, so perhaps he's just got good tollerence, and enjoys being tollerant...?

I wouldn't say that keeping a cat indoors is considered imprisionment, as you've said before your location is apparently safe from all harms to cats. Whether that's true or not, I can't say, but can you blame people like those Americans you speak of and myself for keeping our cats safe inside? We don't live in safe areas like you do, I like on a corner which has killed too many cats, there are snakes everywhere and feral cats which do fight to the death, I can gaurantee that, had Chilli not been indoors only, he would be dead. I understand what you mean completely, which is why Chilli has a walking jacket, but you must understand that my cat is all I care about, he's my world and I can't have anything happening to him... And I'm going to be honest, it breaks my heart to see Chilli gazing out the window wanting to get out there, but he wouldn't last a minute out in the world, which is why I keep the world leashed!


Feb 18, 2010 Am I missing something
by: Rose

Since when has it been compulsory to cut cats claws?
Surely they keep them right themselves when outside?
Lots of wondrous trees and fences to hone them on. My cats love doing that.
Scratching posts in the house for when the weather is bad.
Surely people don't bath cats?I'm horrified. Don't they know it destroys the natural oils in their fur?
I'm inclined to agree with the poster who says cats aren't dollies but some people seem to believe they are.


Feb 18, 2010 Trim cats claws ? why ?
by: Carol

I've not ever heard of doing such a thing in England.I've had cats for years and they've always took care of their manicures by scratching on pads in the house and up trees outside.
They only need to strop their claws and remove the outer case to the perfect new claw underneath.I can't see why anyone would keep on clipping the ends off, sheesh whatever next? It's as bad as bathing them when they're made to bath themselves.
They're cats not dollies.


Feb 18, 2010 Different opinions
by: Sue

Professionals I take it Maggie means professional cat breeders who think a pedigree cat is superior to an ordinary cat ? Professionals who make money from breeding sometimes deformed cats ?
True cat lovers are not impressed by breeders or by breeds, the joys of ordinary naturally bred 'moggies' living natural lives is without comparison.
My 2 girls are tabbys and they enjoy a stress free life with no messing with the parts they can easily take care of themselves.
Each to his/her own but don't go telling us how to care for our own cats.


Feb 18, 2010 It isn't necessity to clip, it is a choice
by: Babz

I agree with Ruth, none of the cats our family has ever owned, including siblings and other family relatives, have ever had, or needed, their claws clipped on a routine basis, provided with the right equipment and with access to pavement/concrete areas and wood to claw at cats claws remain the right length and do not grow too long unless the cat is old or ill and unable to care for itself. And of course the outer claw comes off (often in the couch or chair they have been scratching) and there is new claw underneath ready for action. Nature at it's cleverest! As a life long cat lover I have many cat loving friends too, some have indoor only cats, some have in/outdoor cats as we do,again clipping claws is not an issue. In all my years of cat owning and volunteer work with cat charities I have never known a vet or any other professional person recommend clipping claws other than temporarily for medical issues. And if the breeder tells you how to care for your cat and what you may and may not do for your cat then it isn't really your cat at all is it?

It is not necessary, as I said in the title clipping claws is a choice that some cat owners make because they can't deal with those sharp points on the ends, and hey if they want to make unnecessary extra work for themselves that's up to them. Capital letters about what one believes doesn't make that belief more valid than anyone elses.

Barbara avatar


Feb 18, 2010 Not rubbish
by: Ruth

Hey Maggie, don't forget we live in different cultures. 35 years of our own cats, friends with cats for many years, 15 cats living next door without having their nails trimmed says a lot !
No injuries to self or each other from having their claws just as God made them ! Lots of scratching posts and pads and Nature is our way !!
Your professionals must be different to ours ! 40 years of working with many vets who didn't think trimming cats claws was essential, is good enough for me !Over 40 years volunteering with cats and not one charity clipping claws says it all.
So Chilli likes it maybe ? Or has he got used to it ? But many cats do not like having their paws touched and go through uneccessary stress.
You have your own opinion, I have mine,so don't resort to calling mine rubbish please !
It's as bad as USA people saying cats should never go out, that they don't want to go out ....we feel shock and horror they are kept prisoners without even an outside run but we don't call their views 'rubbish'
All we call rubbish is that some think declawing cats is acceptable.That is black and white !!!!That is what you call rubbish !

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Feb 18, 2010 Rubbish!
by: Maggie Sharp

I've had PROFESSIONALS tell me that I SHOULD clip my cats claws, I also believe I should do so. My cat likes it, so I'll keep doing it!


Feb 17, 2010 I agree Sue
by: Ruth

I have to agree with Sue. In almost 36 years of cats we've only ever had to clip our Ebony's claws when she was very old and didn't get about or use the scratching post much.
None of our cats have been injured from their own claws and none have injured each other.
I love cats and when our boyz 'crochet' on me I feel honoured and so what if their claws dig in,it's hardly agony and I love that they are showing me how happy and content they are using the claws they have the right to use.
Claws are not dreadful things to be hated and feared ! I accept that indoor cats may sometimes need their claws trimmed,but as Sue says, once you've started you have to go on doing it.
YES it is FAR better than declawing a cat, that should never ever be done and I hope it's soon illegal worldwide.

It just seems to me that claws are an obsession with some people,they don't see the cat, they see only the cat's claws !!

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Feb 17, 2010 Claw clipping
by: Sue

People start clipping kittens claws and therefore have to carry on as once messed with they are never the same.
Cats rarely injure themselves with their claws,they aren't more comfortable with shorter claws,they are hooked at the end for a purpose
and provided with the right equipment they keep their own claws in the condition that claws should be.
Too much is made of cats claws, they are only another part of the cat,like whiskers, both much needed parts.
To me too much chopping about of animals goes on.Yes neuter them, that makes sense but for God's sake, they managed without manicures for millions of years before we took their lives over.They are NOT people, they are cats.
My 2 cats are aged 12 and 14 and have never had their claws clipped and never suffered because of that.I don't know of any of my friends who clips their cats claws.
What is this fascination with messing with cats claws?
Yes better than declawing but uneccessary in most cases.


Feb 17, 2010 Claw clipping
by: Maggie Sharp

I clip my cat's claws too, I've seen what happens when you don't trim and animal's nails, mainly in sheep, but it's not a nice sight!

I'm glad I can simply clip Chilli's claws though, it seems to stupid having to hear of people removing the claw, when all it takes is a few little clips and the cat's claws are shorter and the cat is more comfortable.... I also get worried that if I refuse to clip my Chilli's claws then he might cut himself accidently while scratching himself. =(


Feb 16, 2010 alternate methods
by: great article

I love this article. There are so many alternate methods out there besides declawing. Over the Weekend I bought two new throw rugs. MY three cats all took immediatly to kneeding and clawing on both of them. I clip their claws and there were only cheap rugs that I bought for the winter.


Feb 15, 2010 Great article !
by: Ruth

A great article Maggie and I hope a lot of people read it and learn from it.
So many people don't know it's wrong to punish cats in any way, cats don't understand punishment, it doesn't solve any problems, it just makes the cat nervous around you.
Why some people worship furniture is beyond my understanding,what are material goods in comparison with a happy healthy cat ?
It makes me angry that declawing is so readily available for lazy selfish people, they don't even bother to buy a scratching post,it's far easier for them to have the cat disabled.
Some people are obsessed with claws, they are all they see, they miss the beauty of the cat.
Declawed, claws clipped, soft paws shoved on ..... why not just let cats be cats !!

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Feb 14, 2010 And additional point
by: Maggie Sharp

I thought I might add that my home has had many cats in it over the years, my mother used to foster cats and previous owners have had cats, so my house's furniture is basically shredded, but honestly, who cares what it looks like, personally I see it as the cat's personal touch, and believe it or not, but when the cat moves on it does bring back memories... I still imagine Pharoah shredding the side of the chair.. =)

(Not to mention, I don't care much for furniture, so long as it's comfy for me and my cat! Hehe!)



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