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why cats sharpen their claws college for pets

Damage Control: Why Cats Sharpen Their Claws

Dear Mike,


A picture is worth a thousand words. This is the SECOND porch post my cat has destroyed in the past year. Despite the fact that I bought her a cute little scratching post, she insists on sharpening her claws on the front of my house. Why do cats sharpen their claws anyway?

So, here I am again, asking for tips on how to train my cat. Thanks?to you, I no longer have to worry about her peeing on the carpet or jumping on the counter. You know, they should give you some sort of cat training show. I can see it now, Mike, the cat whisperer, living on a ranch with hundreds of cats…? but I digress.

Back to the problem at hand. What can I do to keep her from sharpening her claws in places I don’t want her to?




Cat Whisperer Fan Girl



Why Cats Sharpen Their Claws

I know that you view the destruction of your property as a problem, and it is. The problem is that your cat has no idea that certain items are ‘off limits.’ To them, scratching is as natural as yawning or stretching.

A cat sharpens its claws for a variety of reasons.

  • To mark territory.
  • In an effort to keep its claws in tip-top shape.
  • As a form of exercise.
  • To stretch tired muscles.

Based on the fact that your porch post is in front of your house, I’d guess that your cat is marking its territory. When she scratches the wood, the scent pads on her paws leave behind her ‘mark’ that tells other cats to stay away. This behavior is instinctual and very difficult to change.


How to Stop the Scratching

I realize that you want me to give you a quick and easy solution to your problem. There are a couple of things you can try, but unfortunately, outside of removing the cat from the area (such as keeping her indoors), you might find it hard to get her to stop. Your cat WILL sharpen its claws on something. Even cats that have been declawed ‘sharpen’ their non-existent nails.

That said, one of the first things I would suggest is to place a cat scratching post near the area. If you spray it with catnip, it will definitely attract interest. Most cats like the size and angle of a scratching post and prefer it to sharpen their claws. At the same time, I would make the porch post ‘not friendly.’ Wrap it with something that the cat will not like the feel of… preferably something slick. Bubble wrap is an excellent choice.

You can block access to the post with potted plants. Keep in mind, your cat will sharpen its claws somewhere, so if you do not provide an alternative, then they will find one of their own.

You could always wrap the post with rope and turn it into a true scratching post. While it may not be the most stylish of porch decorations, it will let people know that you truly love your cat.

Finally, you could try the all natural route and supply a thick tree branch, attached to the post or home as to securely be somewhat vertical. Many cats love this solution, which makes perfect sense, as there are not many sisal rope wrapped scratching posts in nature!



Mike Robertson

Owner, College for Pets


P. S. Cat Training Classes

Fan Girl… it appears that you and your cat might benefit from a few Cat Training Sessions at College for Pets. We can show you how to understand and communicate with your feline friend. College for Pets helps pet owners train all types of animals: 4H projects, rats, chickens, sheep, birds, FISH, and of course, dogs and cats.



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