Cat Playing with Claws

Scratching and biting are normal behaviors for cats. However, sometimes felines choose inconvenient spots to scratch. They often need encouragement to do it on the RIGHT surface.

Our play behavior sometimes encourages feline pets to bite inappropriately, so we have some tips to help you play with your cat in a way that does not encourage biting:

  • Keep your cat's nails nice and short — trim nails every 3-4 weeks
    • Two-person system works best
    • One person should grasp the loose skin at the nape of the neck, called the "scruff"
    • Lay your feline pet on its side
    • One should grasp the paw and place one finger above the nail and one on the paw pad, then squeeze to make the nail pop out
    • Trim the nail, cutting only the clear area and avoiding the quick
    • Most cats have 5 nails on both front feet, 4 nail on both hind feet
    • Use appropriate nail clippers
  Cat with Soft Paws
  • Try Soft Paws — plastic caps glued to the nails every 1-1.5 months

  • Avoid hand/finger/foot play
    • Cats will often fixate on hands and fingers
    • Use a toy (like a feather toy on a string) that puts some distance between your hands and your pet
    • Always put strings away in a safe place after playtime as some cats will ingest string

  • Discourage use of inappropriate surfaces with bubble wrap, duct tape, double sided tape

  • Discourage use of inappropriate surfaces with "Kitty, No" — brief, change tone of voice
    Option to pick up using scruff and support body and move your cat away from the area

  •   Cat Scratching Post
    Encourage use of appropriate surfaces with ideal textures, catnip, treats
    • If your cat loves to scratch carpet, upholstery or particular textures, design your own scratching post using their ideal texture
    • Also pay attention to whether your cat prefers to scratch horizontally or vertically
    • If your cat uses the appropriate surface, provide verbal praise and treats
    • Location! Location! Location!
      Cats prefer to scratch in areas which are relatively central — ideal places for a scratching post are by the entryway/doorway, next to the end of the sofa — not tucked away in a hidden corner

  • Keep kitty engaged
    • Playtime, 10 minutes, ideally twice daily
      • Use laser pointers, feather toys
      • Make your pet feel as if it is actually chasing an animal. Start with rapid and frequent movements, let your cat "catch it" a few times and slow down the movements as if the prey is injured. After 5-10 minutes of good playtime let your pet "catch it" for good and give treats to make your cat feel like it has hunted successfully
    • Hide treats around the house, different places every day
    • "Puzzle toys" containing treats or even their dry food or a portion of their dry food for the day
    • Boxes/crunchy paper around house
    • Rotate toys so that they don't get bored of the same items