Behavioral Alternatives To Declawing

Cats need to scratch. Scratching serves multiple important functions. It removes the cuticle from the claws and it leaves a visual and scent marker for all who pass through the area. On the other hand, no one likes to have their furniture ruined. While declawing stops the damage to your furniture, there are alternatives to declawing that are less stressful and painful for the cat. Read on to see if any of these options would work for your cat.

This is the most important step altogether. If your cat has an appropriate place to scratch of the substrate that he wants, he won’t be near as driven to scratch your stuff. For example, if he is scratching your leather couch, give him a pleather (fake leather) covered cat scratcher. Keep him interested in it by rewarding him with food when he goes there and using catnip to peak his interest.

Some cats like horizontal scratching areas. Photo courtesy of Ilana Reisner, DVM, PhD, DACVB

Finding the right substrate is important. Think outside of the box.


Soft Paws are plastic caps which fit over your cat’s claws. Your cat has to be willing to let you or your veterinarian put them on and trim the nails underneath. Some cats will take them off, but many tolerate them. You can find out more at

​Humane deterrents (those that repel cats, but don’t hurt them) can be valuable when also used in conjunction with motivational tools such as catnip and rewards. If you just put deterrents out and don’t give your cat something adequate to scratch on, you are sure to just send your cat packing to the next couch or chair. Some good deterrents are motion activated air spray devices, aluminum foil, carpet runner knobby side up, double sided tape and contact paper with the sticky side up.


The old phrase that you get more flies with honey than vinegar still holds true. Entice your cat to love his new scratching areas by feeding him there, scattering treats at the base of the scratching post, rewarding him when he scratches and putting catnip or spraying catnip spray on the scratching post.

What Are Industry Leaders Saying About Dr. Radosta?

Every once in a while, a veterinary unicorn comes along: competent, confident, compassionate, and a great communicator. Brimming with science and soul. Dr. Lisa Radosta is a true "Jill of all trades," fighting important battles and inspiring future leaders. She has played a big role in making animal behavior important, elevating females in our profession, and showing action steps to make a balance between work and home doable. Equally comfortable in the exam room or coming into people's living room via network TV, Dr. Lisa Radosta fights tirelessly to help pets and people live happier, healthier, fuller lives. I often watch her at the podium, in a board meeting, or in an interview and just think..."you go, girl!

Dr. Marty Becker

Dr. Radosta is exceedingly passionate about each individual animal and understands by helping a pet she is also helping families; her passion is only exceeded by her knowledge to make a difference. Dr. Radosta is also a master communicator, whether it is explaining behavior modification to families desperate for exactly what Dr. Radosta and her team provide to communicating to professional colleagues at veterinary meetings.

Steve Dale, CABC

Every single day Dr. Radosta is making the world a better place for dogs and cats suffering from fear, stress, and anxiety. She's highly regarded by veterinarians and board-certified behaviorists alike and I am honored to have worked alongside her to educate pet parents about the importance of caring for our pet's mental health -- she's my "go-to" for video or blog interviews on behavior topics. I've also been a client of Dr. Radosta's behavior practice and I credit her with opening my eyes back in 2006 to how FAS affects our pets' quality of life. 

Kristen Levine