If you’re a cat owner, then you’ve probably thought about buying a scratching post. After all, cats love them and it’ll be nice to have your cat stop using your couch as their scratching post.
It’s not hard to see where they’re so common: they’re good to play with, they can relieve anxiety, and they stave off boredom. Besides, it’s better than having your cat ruin your couch or bed frame.
But do scratching posts sharpen claws? No, Scratching helps keep their nails groomed, and prevents them from becoming dull. It is also a natural urge that cats get to help them mark their territory and prevent them from becoming bored.
Today, we’re going to answer all of your feline-related questions. Hop in!
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Why Do Cats Scratch?
Felines are notorious scratchers. Any cat owner can tell you about their destructive and furniture-abusing ways. But why are they so fond of scratching?
Well, it’s a natural urge. For one, cats like to mark their territory. However, that’s not the only reason.
Cats also scratch to remove the outer layer of their claws. This process frees the healthier nail beneath. That means that cats don’t just scratch for fun, but they also scratch to groom themselves.
Another reason cats scratch is because it simply feels good. By scratching your sofa until it wears down, cats stretch their muscles and tendons. They also tend to scratch when they feel excited or frustrated.
Do Scratching Posts Sharpen Claws?
When cats scratch, they remove the outer sheath of the nail. This is why you might think that cats sharpen their claws when they scratch. However, that’s not the case.
Cats indeed scratch to groom their claws. This scratching doesn’t sharpen their claws; however, it prevents nails from dulling and helps them become healthier.
You can’t really deter felines from this behavior, as it’s ingrained in them. However, you can help them direct it away from your precious sofa. This is where a scratching post proves to be useful.
A good quality scratching post should be sturdy and reliable. You want to purchase something that your cat can use without it collapsing.
The material also matters. You’ll find that felines have a preference for sisal rope, carpet, and natural wood.
Cardboard scratching posts are also a popular favorite. You might also want to look into your cat’s other preferences: would she like a vertical post better than a horizontal one? Where would she like it? For instance, cats tend to scratch right after waking up, so you might want to put your scratching post near where your cat sleeps.
My Cat Doesn’t Want To Use a Scratching Post
It’s a common mistake to assume that cats know exactly what a scratching post is and how to use it.
Cats are smart but not that smart. They still need a little guidance. You could start by giving them treats after they use the scratching post, which encourages them to use it more.
However, you have to avoid holding your cat near the scratching post. This can put your cat off the scratching post completely, as it’s more likely to scare than encourage her. It also can put her off you!
Finally, you might want to hide other objects to discourage your cat from scratching them. Try to put away speakers and cover sofas. You could even put sticky tape on furniture and then put your scratching post next to it. This way, it’ll look like a nice alternative to the now forbidden furniture.
Does Trimming a Cat’s Nails Help With Scratching?
A cat’s nails are retractable until they grow too long. When feline nails get past a certain length, they start to curve. Grooming can help keep your cat’s nails from snagging on fabric, carpet, and even skin.
Trimming your cat’s nails can certainly aid with scratching. It can curb her destructive habits and minimize any potential damage.
It’s a good idea to trim the tips of your cat’s nails every week or so. However, you want to familiarize your cat first by regularly handling their paw. Once she’s comfortable with that, you can start trimming.
Trimming Your Cat’s Nails
Here’s the deal: cats don’t like getting their claws trimmed. They’re usually not very cooperative, so you’ll want to take it slow.
How? Well, by just playing with their paws. Your cat may happily accept this as she cuddles in your lap, or she may rebel. In case she rebels, you might have to restrain her by gently putting your forearms over her neck.
If your cat refuses to stay put, you might want to consider taking her to a professional instead.
For this task, you can use your regular “human” nail clipper. If your cat’s nails haven’t curled in, you can always make do with a standard nail clipper.
Before cutting, gently press on your cat’s toes with your finger. Feline claws are retractable, so you have to lightly squeeze to expose them.
The most important thing to do while cutting is to avoid the quick. The quick is basically the nerve and blood supply to the nail. If you cut it, your cat will bleed and feel pain.
Luckily for you, it’s not hard to see the quick. It presents itself as a light pink stripe at the base of the nail. To avoid hurting your cat, you must trim two millimeters away from the quick.
Most importantly, you have to cut perpendicular to the nail. Avoid holding the nail clipper parallel to the nail. If you do, you may splinter your cat’s claw.
If you cut your cat’s nails too short, you can use a styptic pencil to stop the bleeding. You can also try to press on the tip of the nail to reduce blood loss. In a normal situation, the bleeding would usually stop at about five minutes.
Why Do Cats Scratch People?
Cats can’t keep their paws to themselves. Other than random objects, they love to scratch people. Are they trying to use their skin to file their claws?
We can assure you they aren’t. When cats scratch people, it might be because they feel threatened. In this instance, scratching becomes their defense tactic.
If you think your cat is feeling threatened, it’s best if you immediately stop what you’re doing. Try to leave your cat alone for a while until she calms down.
Another reason is she might be feeling playful. Now, biting and scratching might not translate to “playful” in your dictionary. However, cats love to do this during playtime, especially if you’re touching their tummy. We’d recommend steering clear of your cat’s belly and using a toy to play with (not your hand!)
Should I Declaw My Cat?
If your cat’s constant scratching is causing you trouble, you might be thinking about declawing. But should you really do it?
Declawing is the process of taking out a cat’s claws. It’s done by breaking off the end bones of your cat’s toes. Declawing is heavily discouraged for a multitude of reasons. It’s even banned in New York.
The process is obviously cruel, but it can also cause physical problems for your feline friend. For example, your cat might have trouble using the litter box. She might also start using biting as an alternative method of defense.
So, do scratching posts sharpen claws? Not exactly, but they can file them. With a good scratching post, your cat will get to expel her energy and groom her little claws.
All you need to do is sprinkle some catnip around and let the magic happen. Your cat will get strong, healthy nails, and you’ll finally get your peace of mind.