Feline Nail Care
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Feline Nail Care

By Catnip Calico
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Many people don't know that the cat scratches mainly for 3 reasons:
  1. To sharpen his claws as well as to help shed the dead outer sheathes of the claws so that new healthy ones can surface. These dead sheathes have to be removed or the cat may resort to chewing on his nails. However, it is normal for the cat to chew on the claws of his hind legs in an attempt to remove the dead sheaths;

  2. To stretch out his body. When the cat stretches with the use of a scratching post, all the muscles from the claws through the legs and shoulders and down the back are unkinked and toned;

  3. To mark his territories both visually and with the scent from his paw pad.
I also noticed an interesting phenomenon with a number of my cats (one of my favorite leisure activities is to watch and observe my cats and then think why they do this and that). I notice that when my cats get excited, for example when I give them attention and affection or when I play chase with them (I basically chase them around the house or around their kitty playground), they would sometimes scratch excitedly on scratching posts.

Two of my cats used to scratch the arms of my loveseat until I laid a nice bedsheet over it. We made sure that the sides of the bedsheet were nicely tucked in because sometimes they still tried to go behind the sheet to scratch on the couch. In the meantime, whenever I caught them scratching my couch, rugs or carpet, I quickly shouted "NO!" walked up to them, and carried them to their carpeted cat tree. Sometimes I would pretend I was the mommy cat, and scratch the cat tree myself. They seemed to be attracted to the scratching sound I made on their tree. Don't forget to reward your cat with praises or treats whenever she uses the scratching post. It might take a while before your cat learns where she should scratch. For me, it took a few weeks to teach my first 2 cats. For my current kitties, it took a week or so. Just be firm and be patient with your kitty.

If your cat prefers one corner of your house, you might like to move the scratching post(please consider using a scratching post made out of sisal ropes)to that corner. If she likes the couch, you can put one scratching post in front of that couch. Later on, you can slowly move the posts to where you want them permanently.

Some cats seem to prefer sisal ropes while some prefer corrugated cardboard; others seem to like those made out of carpet. You may have to experiment a little with your own cat to know what her preference is.

Clipping her nails once a week will help prevent her from getting caught in the fabric of the couch.

Please don't declaw your cat. Declawing is actually an amputation of the toes. It's like cutting your fingers off at the first or second joints. I volunteer in the cat house at the biggest local animal shelter here. I was told that a declawed cat might turn into a "biting cat," since he can no longer scratch to defend himself.

Hope this helps.

Good luck,
Catnip Calico
Visit: Catnip Calico's Popoki Corner

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Last Updated: 23 December '98 at approximately 12:25 GMT

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