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Fluffy’s Scratching Habits
November 15, 2023

Have you ever found your feline pal scratching your carpet, chair, or sofa? Chances are, the answer to that is probably a yes. Fluffy is very diligent about keeping her nails sharp. This can be a bit frustrating to her humans. Read on as a local Potomac, MD vet offers some insight into kitty nail care habits.

Understanding Feline Scratching

It’s important to understand why your furry pal is so obsessed with her peticures. In the wild, cats rely on their claws for survival: they use those paw daggers to hunt, defend themselves, and climb to shelter and safety. No wonder they have such a strong instinct about keeping them sharp!

Choosing Manicure Stations

Your fuzzy friend will need a suitable scratching spot. A cat tower is of course purrfect here. It’s the closest thing to a tree, which would be Fluffy’s nail care station in the wild. It also offers napping and lookout spots. You can also use a scratching post or board. There are actually some pretty cute ones available now. For example, you can get your feline friend a little taco scratcher, or one that looks like a record player. Just choose something sturdy.

Behavioral Training

You may need to teach your furry little diva to use her scratcher instead of your sofa. This requires tact, time, patience, and perhaps some bribery. Never punish your pet for scratching improperly. That will just scare or anger Fluffy, and may make her wary of you. Instead, you want to instill good habits. Reward your kitty with praise, treats, and catnip for using her scratching post. If you find her scratching improperly, do something that will startle and annoy her, but won’t scare or hurt her. You can stomp your foot, squirt her with water, or bang two pots together. Sooner or later, your feline buddy will get the hint.


No luck? One option is to clip your furry friend’s nails. Unlike declawing, which is permanent, this is a temporary and painless measure, just as trimming our own nails would be. However, we wouldn’t recommend this for cats that are allowed to go outdoors, as they need their nails for self-defense. Another option would be the claw cap. These are basically like press-on nails for kitties. Fluffy can even sport fashionable colors, like red or pink. Ask your vet for more information. 

Our Advice on Fluffy’s Scratching Habits

Why is your cat so determined to keep her nails sharp?

Cats instinctively keep their nails sharp for survival. In the wild, sharp claws are essential for hunting, climbing, and self-defense. This behavior is deeply ingrained, so even domestic cats feel a natural urge to maintain their claws, ensuring they’re ready for any situation.

How can you provide appropriate scratching options for your cat at home?

Invest in various scratching posts or pads made of materials like sisal, cardboard, or carpet to provide appropriate scratching options for your cat. Could you place them in areas your cat frequents? Encourage use by sprinkling catnip on them or using toys. Ensure they are sturdy and tall enough for your cat to stretch fully while scratching.

How can you train your cat to use a scratching post instead of furniture?

To encourage your cat to use a scratching post, position it close to the furniture they commonly scratch. Encourage its use with catnip, treats, or dangling toys. Gently guide their paws onto the post. If they scratch furniture, redirect them to the post without scolding. Consistent, positive reinforcement is critical.

What are the pros and cons of clipping my indoor cat’s nails?

Pros of clipping your indoor cat’s nails include reducing the risk of them getting snagged on fabrics, minimizing damage to furniture, and preventing accidental scratches to people and other pets. However, cons include the potential for stress to your cat during clipping and the risk of cutting quickly, causing pain and bleeding if not done correctly. Regular clipping also requires time and patience. It’s essential to learn proper techniques or seek a professional’s help.

Why is it not recommended to clip the nails of outdoor cats?

Clipping the nails of outdoor cats isn’t recommended because sharp claws are crucial for their defense against predators and other threats. They also need them for climbing and securing themselves in elevated places, which can be vital escape routes or vantage points in the outdoor environment.

Please reach out to us, your local Potomac, MD animal clinic, for all of your cat’s veterinary care needs. We’re always happy to help!