Sharp claws and problem scratching can lead to the temptation to declaw your cat, but this can lead to problems. This includes behavioral issues along with health issues like shattered paw bones and infections. Fortunately, there are alternatives to the procedure, as the following will illustrate.

Option # 1: Trimming

Cats primarily claw to sharpen their nails. You can minimize the damage by keeping their nails well trimmed. You will need cat nail clippers and a few extra minutes to do this. Simply press each paw pad so the claw extends, and then clip off the sharp tip. Do not cut off more than the tip, since this can cause pain and bleeding. Your vet can show you how to trim properly if you need further help.

Option #2: Claw Covers

Claw covers are plastic caps that are installed over the claw, making it impossible for scratching to cause damage. Your vet glues the covers over each claw. Your will need to get them replaced every few months, since they will be lost when your cat naturally sheds their claws. In some cases, cats don't like the feeling of trying to scratch with the covers, so they actually break your cat of the scratching habit.

Option #3: Provide Alternatives

Providing alternatives may be sufficient to discouraging problem scratching. Make sure your cat has appropriate places to scratch and sharpen their claws. Carpeted cat trees are a common option, but you may need to provide several types of scratchers to find the type your cat prefers. Some cats prefer cardboard scratchers, while others prefer sisal rope or carpet. There are varieties that attach to a wall, hang from a door knob, or that lie flat on the floor. Some experimentation will likely find the best type for your cat or cats.

Option #4: Behavior Modification

Behavior modification is best used in conjunction with the other methods listed above. Start by making favorite but off limit scratching spots unattractive. For example, lay tin foil over the area. Cats generally don't like the feeling of the foil so they will avoid it. Once they have begun scratching in the appropriate place, you can remove the foil from the location. Citrus sprays are another option. Many cats dislike the odor, so spritzing the spray on off-limits items will keep your cat from scratching the area. These sprays are usually available at pet supply stores. Your vet can also advise you on other methods to encourage proper scratching that may work well with your cat's personality and habits.

For a veterinary clinic, contact an office such as Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic.