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Claw Counseling

dvm (61)The main reasons for scratching surfaces are claw care (removes exterior layers of the nail) and communication (a form of territorial marking). Kittens need opportunity to engage in these normal cat behaviors. Appropriate scratching posts should be made readily available.

Scratching posts should be placed near favored resting places, as kittens often scratch after waking up from a nap. To facilitate the placement of communicate scratch marks on suitable surfaces, additional posts should be placed in prominent ares rather than corners.

Until a kitten's preference can be determined, a variety of scratching surfaces should be offered: wood, corrugated cardboard, sisal rope, and loose woven carpet. Vertical and horizontal posts should be offered.

Kittens need supervision (like all babies) until they can consistently select appropriate scratching surfaces. When supervision is to available, kittens should be confined in a cat-proofed area with scratching posts, toys, food, water and litter box.

Mildly aversive deterrents (double sided tape) can be used to deter the kitten from scratching on valuable furniture or rugs, but an appropriate post should be placed in the immediate vicinity. Positive reinforcement delivered immediately after the kitten uses the post may strengthen preference for the correct surface. Cats that are punished (water spraying, verbal reprimand) may become fearful and reluctant to interact with owners.

To avoid incidental damage that can occur during climbing, cat trees and elevated walk-ways should be provided. Keep claws trimmed to help decrease damage to valuables. If unwanted destructive behavior occurs despite your efforts, please talk to our doctors about other suggestions. In most cases, solutions can be found that may be able to avoid declawing.