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Scratching is a natural, instinctive urge for all cats. In the wild, scratching leaves a scent mark. Domestic cats do it to stretch and for exercise, as well as to condition their claws. Most any cat can learn to scratch appropriate posts instead of furniture. Here's how to teach them:  

  1. Provide ample opportunities to scratch appropriate surfaces

    • Locate in rooms where cat likes to hang out

    • Variety of surfaces: wood, carpet, sisal rope, corrugated cardboard

    • Provide both horizontal & vertical scratching surfaces

    • Tall cat trees double as a play tower and perch, and cats love peering out the window from them

  2. Make appropriate surfaces as attractive to your cats as possible, and make sure they are rewarded for using them

    • When cats scratch, they like to be able to pull very hard against their nails so the post should be as stable as possible.

    • Rub catnip on surfaces periodically.

    • Give treats to your cat when he scratches the right place.

    • Include scratching posts/trees in play/games with your cat.

  3. Prevent and gently dissuade your cat from destructive scratching

    • Cover or remove favorite targets. Set a scratch pad or post nearby so the cat has an alternative.

    • If you spot Pickles scratching the leather couch, you can say “Oops”, gently pick him up and set him down at a scratching post.

    • If you punish your cat for destructive scratching (for example, with a squirt gun), he will probably only learn not to scratch while in your presence, and may learn to fear you.

The Scratch Lounger - made in Chicago - Luxury cat trees made in Woodstock, Illinois

Trim your cat's nails regularly (or bring them to us for a technician nail trim appointment) to minimize damage to your possessions. Have patience and please call us at 414-962-6662 for additional advice.

ASPCA Article: Destructive Scratching

Dr. Sophia Yin Article:
Training Your New Cat to Stop Scratching Furniture

Soft Paws are plastic caps that are glued to your cat's nails. They prevent destructive scratching and are usually well tolerated. They come in a variety of colors and can be applied at home or by our veterinary technicians.


As a gold level Cat Friendly Clinic, we do not perform elective declawing in cats. Declawing is the surgical amputation of the last bone in a cat's toe that can have lasting physical and emotional/behavioral effects. The American Association of Feline Practitioners strongly opposes the declawing procedure, it is even against the law in most European countries, and even some states are beginning to pass legislation to make it illegal here as well. If you have questions about how to work with your cat's natural scratching behavior, please call us at 414-962-6662 for a phone consultation with a veterinary technician who can help answer any questions you may have.


If your cat scratches you, other people, or other pets, declawing is not the simple solution you may hope. Many cats who use their claws aggressively today will use their teeth once the claws are gone. It is preferable to address the underlying reasons for the aggression to prevent injuries while letting Mittens keep her toes. Please call us at 414-962-6662 for help with feline aggression. 


Still prefer declawed cats? Consider adopting a previously declawed cat from a shelter. allows you to search for declawed cats at local shelters, rescue groups, and humane societies. (Perform an initial cat search, then select "declawed" from the additional search options.)


AAFP 2017 Statement on declawing


More information on declawing


Information on living with a cat with claws

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