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Friday, August 29, 2008

Why does my declawed cat still scratch the furniture?

“My cat is declawed. Why does he still attempt to scratch the furniture?” Most of the Newton Falls Public Library staff own pets, so we always find pet related questions to be very interesting. The library has many books on cats and their care. The first ones examined, The Complete Guide to Cat Care by Wendy Christensen and the staff of the Humane Society of the United States, Housecat: how to keep your indoor cat sane and sound by Christine Church, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting & Owning a Cat by Sheila Webster Boneham, Ph.D., address the controversial issue of declawing. Scratching is an instinctual behavior and felines do it for three reasons: to sharpen their claws and remove the outer sheath, to scent mark their territory, and to anchor bodies so they can stretch. Housecat also mentioned that cats use claws for scratching themselves and grooming [p.117]. When it appears a declawed cat is attempting to scratch, they are actually scent marking. Cats will also do this with their faces, so when your cat rubs against or pats you they are marking you as their own.

If your cat still has claws and you are looking for options to keep your household goods from being shredded and scratched, there are books and web sites to give you options. Outdoors, cats will do very well with trees. Indoors, you as an owner need to be creative as each cat may have a different scratching style. According to Dr. Boneham, some cats like to stretch and scratch horizontally and others like to stand and scratch [p.115.] Cat trees and posts covered with carpeting, tightly woven fabrics, sisal rope and twine are very popular. You can build your own with The Pet House Book: how to build housing, accessories, and playthings for your dogs, cats, birds, lizards, hamsters, and other pets by Lura Labarge. One of the more interesting projects in this book is a “Natural Cattree” made from actual tree branches with wooden and basket perches, and macramé and fabric slings. FelineFurnitureFactory [] has links to free plans for both trees and posts. One of the trees is made from a small stepladder. For those with limited woodworking skills, CrazyMeezer [] suggests using wall shelving to create a cat climbing unit. This site also links to another suggesting how to use other do-it-yourself furniture to make pet housing.
No matter what type of pet you own, the Newton Falls Public Library staff will be happy to assist you in finding the information you need to keep it happy and healthy. Visit the library at 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls, phone 330-872-1282 or online at

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