With winter in full swing, cats are now confining themselves to the indoors. But along with them come their habits and needs, not to mention their claws.

Cats use their claws for a variety of purposes. Aside from hunting and climbing, they also need them for stretching out their spines, which usually goes hand in hand with digging said razor sharp talons into the nearest couch or carpet.

Unfortunately, cats don’t care about the damage that their claws do to furniture. And that damage can be extensive, especially on delicate fabrics.

If you are having problems of this kind, please consider NOT de-clawing your cat. It is a horrible, painful surgery in which the part of the toe bone must be removed or the claws will grow back.

Because the cat must use the litter box, the wounds can become infected. There could also be psychological damage done by this operation. Shelters around North America receive declawed cats because their behaviour after the surgery became too much for their owners to handle.

There are many more humane and less expensive ways to minimize how much your cat claws things. The first thing you need to know is that cats need to scratch, it is part of their natural behaviour.

A scratching post of some kind is a must if your cat is indoors. There are many different kinds, from the tall carpeted towers to the slanted stands with replaceable cardboard inserts.

One common mistake people make is hiding the scratcher away in the spare room. For whatever reason, most cats prefer to do their claw sharpening in the presence of their families. So a spot in a common room will make it more appealing for them.

If the scratcher is being ignored, a little catnip or honey suckle rubbed into it will attract their attention.

There are several methods to keep cats from destroying furniture. There are sprays that act as scratching repellents, yet do not dissuade the cat from sitting on the furniture.

The one I have heard the best feedback on to date is called “No Scratch”.

Double sided tape on a favorite scratch spot will also work, cats hate having their paws stick to anything.

Other ways to help minimize the damage is to trim the cat’s claws. Just taking off the sharp tip will help a lot, but it will need to be done every three weeks or so.

The secret to a clean painless claw trimming is another topic, just be sure to place the clipper blades on the sides of the nail rather then the top and bottom.

The last thing I will suggest is the use of a product called “Soft claws”. They are a rubber claw cap that is glued onto the cat’s claws. They come in a variety of colours, but do wear out in time so they should be checked on a regular basis.

Contact Jaime Hanna with your questions at crittertalk101@hotmail.com.

PHOTO: JAIME HANNA