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Husband wants to declaw - How do I train Spirit to scratch the posts instead?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hello all. First, background info. We have a 3 year old cat that we declawed (yes I admit it) when she was only about 5 months old. She's quite a nipper now and I can't help but think it's related to her declaw. We adopted a kitten a couple months ago (Spirit) and I love his temperament. I don't want to risk losing it by declawing him. Plus, as a recent thread here noted, his adoption contract has a no declaw "claws". Heh heh.

Anyways.... My husband is a loving man and is not forcing me to declaw Spirit. However his first reaction whenever Spirit claws at the quilt on the bed or at the couch is "time to get him declawed." It's a guilt trip I guess. He's not anti-declaw, but respects my desire NOT to declaw.... for now at least.

SO, in an effort to prevent marital spats and keep Spirit and his claws on daddy's good side, how do I train Spirit to ALWAYS use his scratching posts? He currently has three and I have a big cat tree ordered that will show up soon, but he still likes to claw the quilt and the couch on occassion. I'm concerned I'm not doing enough to reinforce good scratching behavior while he's still a baby (7 months old now). I've read some suggestions like playing with a shoelace on the scratcher, and he does use the scratchers, but also the couch on occassion.

Oh and by the way, I am using Softclaws, but he's a small kitten and it's been hard to get them to fit on his tiny little dewclaws. Plus you know they're shed off once in a while, and until mommy gets home or wakes up he's bare-clawed. Thanks!
post #2 of 22
Welcome....I can appreciate the situation you are faced with...this is a really good article on teaching cats to scratch appropriately:

http://www.pawschicago.org/PetCare/catscratching.htm
post #3 of 22
Read the article above and maybe try to gently and civily educate your husband a little more on what declawing actually is (ie: amputation) and explain that training your cat to properly scratch will take some time and ask him to please be patient and help with your training efforts and let him know that the soft paws WILL work better as your kitty grows (I use them on Oliver and they work wonders... they dont fall off as easily on an older cat for my experiences)... good luck with the training of both your kitty and hubby, haha - just be persistant...
post #4 of 22
Do you have a scratching post with carpet and sisal ??? if so get a bottle of spray catnip and spray it and take kitty to it everytime you see him scratching //// if kitty likes to scratch on a few paticular items try a detterent spray
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
I have two cardboard scratching boards (one horizontal, one angled) and one vertical sisal post. The soon-to-arrive cat tree will have several sisal posts. I think I will try the catnip spray - that same suggestion was in the article that TNR1 linked to.... A great article, by the way!

I am happy to hear that SoftClaws work better on older (bigger) cats. They work pretty well as it is, and to think they will stay on better as Spirit grows is comforting.

And yes, I will continue to calmly and patiently "train" my hubby to think "declawing = bad"! Maybe a little food reinforcement would work with him... they say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Thanks for the tips!
post #6 of 22
Please try and teach your husband about it as you've said you will, because a cat with claws will never fit perfectly into a "cats never scratch anything but a post" world. They can do their best, but still the occasional "accident" will happen and then you will just keep having to have this argument.
I'm not sure if this is in the article, I think it is, but one thing that really helped me was noticing where she was scratching wrong and putting the post there. Frinstance, Zissou likes her post by a doorway. And one up-and-down and one sideways. Which you have both of.
When we got her, we would just convince her to be around it in general. We did such a good job that to this day if you shake her treat bag and don't give her one fast enough she runs and jumps on top of her scratching post.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Yes, the article mentions putting the post where the cat likes to (but shouldn't) scratch. And once we get Spirit eating a good food (he's plagued by diarrhea), I'll find suitable treats to reward his scratching behavior!

I like the SoftClaws for those occassional slip-ups - they do a good job protecting furniture, in general. They should help my husband feel more comfortable with Spirit keeping his claws. It's funny - my husband can get an idea stuck in his head until one day (poof!) the lightbulb goes on and he says "eureka, I see the err of my ways!"
post #8 of 22
Good for you Raquel for trying to train you cat to use a post rather than giving up!!!

I just bought new house and new living room furniture. The LR is large so most of the furniture "floats" away from walls and it is a huge temptation for my cats to walk up to the back side of the furniture and claw it. But I've trained my cats over the years and here is what I have done in the past and what I am doing now:

Get a variety of scratch posts available for them. Have at least one taller one where they can stretch their bodies out in a full stretch. I have short ones and they don't use them as much - their bodies are cramped when they try to scratch and they LOVE the tall ones (including the condos). I also have the cardboard flat ones.

Place them all over your house but in particular, near the furniture that may tempt them. I have one behind each piece of new furniture that is floating in my LR. I praise the heck out of them each time they walk up to the post and scratch it rather than the back of my sofa.

To train a cat when I first get them, I use a similar technigue as I would use to housebreak a puppy: don't let them out of your site for a minute. When you see them go after something that you don't want them to scratch, give them a firm "NO", carry them over to the closet scratch post, place their paws on it and rub. Kneel on the floor next to them and rub your fingers on the post as if you are scratching. Praise them as they do this and if they are treat motivated, give them a treat when they do this right. If you aren't totally consistent with a puppy when young, they learn that they can pee where they want as long as you aren't there. You have to be totally consistent with the kitten/cat at first for the same reason. I've never gone more than 3 days to train a cat, even when older and with bad habits.

My cats know what is right and what is wrong to scratch. Last night I saw Sage walk up to the back of the love seat and put a paw on the back corner of it (right next to the scratch post). I said his name and gave him a hiss and he moved his paw over to the scratch post. Yes, every now and then they regress and you need to remind them. I'm giving ours some flak because we are in a new house and have only had the furniture a few weeks. They are still adjusting to their new digs. I have 11 cats in my house and my furniture is intact - it can be done.

Good luck!

As a funny side note: when the movers moved my stuff a few weeks ago, one of them said that they would like to be a cat in my house after they loaded up half of one of their trucks with cat condos, then realized that when they got to the new place there were 3 more that we had already moved. Mine are spoiled! LOL
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom
I'm not sure if this is in the article, I think it is, but one thing that really helped me was noticing where she was scratching wrong and putting the post there. Frinstance, Zissou likes her post by a doorway. And one up-and-down and one sideways.
Last year after I first took Oliver in off the streets, he had to stay with my parents for a few months (I was still living in the dorms at school and after getting caught with him in there, I had kept him in my then boyfriend's room at his fraternity house and was stuck for a place for Oliver to stay after the bf and I broke up)... anyway, at my parents' Oliver was being kept mostly in my bedroom (mom = allergic, dog = not too fond of kitties) and kept scratching my closet door (this was before the soft claws) so my mom spoiled him with a scratching post and placed it right in front of my closet: put catnip and his toys on it and gave him treats for using it - worked like a charm... hasnt scratched that door since and when we visit my parents, the post goes in the same place, hehe

Also, I would notice what type of fabrics and materials Oliver liked to scratch at and on of those things was denim... he would use my thighs as a post when he sat in my lap if I was wearing jeans... so I took extra material from a denim skirt I had shortened and fashioned him a horizontal scratching board and he LOVES it... he still scratches at both these things even with the soft paws on...

Hope the kitty/hubby training goes well!
post #10 of 22
good for you for being persistant. I hope everything works out and spirit learns where to and where not to scratch!!! BEST of luck...


Can someone explain to me exactly what are softpaws? I have heard about them but am not sure how they are put on...or how they prevent scratching...Thanks everyone!!
J&J
post #11 of 22
Please click hereto read lots of ideas on how to teach your cat not to scratch.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jayme&Jackson
Can someone explain to me exactly what are softpaws? I have heard about them but am not sure how they are put on...or how they prevent scratching...Thanks everyone!!
J&J
Soft paws are little plastic caps that are glued onto your cat's nails... so your cat's nail still work properly, but there is not damage from scratching... the caps fall off as the nail grows and sheds and you just reapply them as they fall off.... they come in clear and all different colors - definitely a great alternative to declawing especially for those stubborn kitties that dont like to be trained very much (:ahem! Oliver! ahem!....
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by BuzbyJLC10
Soft paws are little plastic caps that are glued onto your cat's nails... so your cat's nail still work properly, but there is not damage from scratching... the caps fall off as the nail grows and sheds and you just reapply them as they fall off.... they come in clear and all different colors - definitely a great alternative to declawing especially for those stubborn kitties that dont like to be trained very much (:ahem! Oliver! ahem!....
Thanks for the reply. Jackson does not scratch at all, he's a such a good little man!!!! Yes it is a GREAT alternative instead of declawing. I would never declaw. There are too many alternative to have to turn to declawing. Thank again for the info.

J&J
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Wow, thanks to everyone for their posts and encouragement! It so happens that the delivery of my new cat tree was delayed by Good Friday, so until I get that in the house Spirit doesn't have a tall scratching post. I've got short ones right now..... it should be here soon and I'm going to keep a close eye on him. And in the meantime, thank goodness for Softclaws!

Thanks again - I am happy to hear that there is hope for having nice furniture and cats in the same house.
post #15 of 22
if you use door mats in the house, try rough straw ones - we have several of these around the house, and my cats go crazy for them! Whenever they walk past they can't resist stopping there for a good scratching. We didnt even train them to do this, and we have 5 cats! - the good thing about these is that they can stretch out and scratch over them. Im not sure what the material is, its kind of strawish, and is patterned in squares - the cats love, love, love this stuff!

we have a lot of 'susceptible' furniture (inc leather and brocade sofas, and thick pile rugs) and nice duvet covers so it was important for us that they were well behaved in that regard (though we would never consider declawing them - its actually considered animal abuse and is illegal here in the UK)..

Good luck!
post #16 of 22
Catnip spray is what worked for me, as well as consistency in redirecting the behavior. Every time I saw Sam start to scratch at the couch, I would move him to the post, sometimes even demonstrating how to use it myself. He's got the post and a sisal rug, and he goes for them about 95% of the time as opposed to the couch or the rug. Henri never had a problem. She likes the super scratcher and the post. Occasionally she'll go for the couch but stops when I look at her.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by rblaude
Oh and by the way, I am using Softclaws, but he's a small kitten and it's been hard to get them to fit on his tiny little dewclaws. Plus you know they're shed off once in a while, and until mommy gets home or wakes up he's bare-clawed. Thanks!
You can trim the Soft Claws down by cutting the open end with a nail cutter until they're the right length. I've had a bit of difficulty getting them to stay on my kitties' dewclaws, too. You might try emailing the Soft Claw company and asking their advice on it.
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
Yes I need to get a couple of those sisal rugs! I've heard a few people recommend them now and I think Spirit would enjoy them.

Oh and I was able to get the Softclaws on his dewclaws yesterday. I did trim down the softclaw - but even that didn't work up till now! He's so small because he was a sick baby. My husband says he looks more like a ferret than a cat.
post #19 of 22
I use Feliway spray with my adults to deter scratching, as well as place catnip on the appropriate scratching surfaces. I am unsure of the affect Feliway would have on a kitten.
We use not only the sisal rope scratchers, but also the cardboard kind. I have found that are cats/kittens like having a variety of different textures, so we have one scratcher called the Turbo Scratcher, (cardboard in the center, a ball around the perimeter) as well as one called Alpine..something...LOL But it another cardboard scratcher with elevation at one side.
Using a spray bottle, or I have been told the air in cans used to clean off a keyboard. I also recommend a can with pennies in it, to have him startle off of the inappropriate scratching place, until you can get him and place him on his scratching post.
Along with everyone else, I hope that you can help your husband understand that with patience and training, the situation should remedy.
Spirit is a cutie!! I hope he trains very quickly for you.
post #20 of 22
We have rough straw type mats by the front and back doors of our house and our 2 cat use these. However they do sometimes use the furniture but that's cats I suppose. It's not worth getting up tight about it. They claw the furniture, no big deal - they're more important than any item of furniture however expensive or posh!!!!!
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by rblaude
Yes I need to get a couple of those sisal rugs! I've heard a few people recommend them now and I think Spirit would enjoy them.

Oh and I was able to get the Softclaws on his dewclaws yesterday. I did trim down the softclaw - but even that didn't work up till now! He's so small because he was a sick baby. My husband says he looks more like a ferret than a cat.
Great!! Glad to hear it! Yes, my babes lose their dewclaws in about half the time they should stay on. It's frustrating to have to replace them so often. I'm thinking of emailing the company that makes Soft Claws myself to ask their advice on it.

Glad you were able to do it! Good job, meowmy!!
post #22 of 22
I second, or third, the idea to buy catnip spray. I put that and actual catnip on the big cat tree and the two little scratching posts and I rarely have a problem. They have a scratching post for each room.
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