Please give me your advice - scratching!!! - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-08-2013, 11:05 PM Thread Starter
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Please give me your advice - scratching!!!

We are working with a new foster. She is a 6 month old ginger tabby. She was on the euthanasia list because she was returned to the shelter 4 times.

She is extremely friendly and loving. She loves giving kisses, and will "clean" your ears if you let her. The problem is she does not understand to sheath her claws, and she is very active. today she jumped from the floor to my shoulder, wiggled around, lost her balance and literally slid down my back. I am a bloody mess right now.

A few days ago, she jumped on my gf, tried to climb on her head, and scratched her just above her eye. She is absolutely terrified of this cat now.

I think some of the problem is that she was reported as a neutered male by the shelter vet, but she is actually an unspayed female. She was in a heat a few days ago, and another vet confirmed she is female, and not spayed. (Don't ask me why, but this is the second time we've gotten a vet who said cats were altered when they were not. At least this time, it wasn't our vet.)
Anyway, spaying is scheduled for Monday.

We have worked with hundreds of cats, and never run into one like this before. We will likely keep ourselves, but I don't know what to do about the scratching. As I said, my gf won't go near her, but does not have the heart to give up on her. If we do - I am told she is out of chances. I am actually considering declawing, something that is anathema to us. But I don't want to see this little soul destroyed.

Any ideas? Please!
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-08-2013, 11:11 PM
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I am not one who supports declawing, usually. But if this poor cat had to choose to give up something... claws or life... I suppose she'd say "claws". For some reason, she missed the memo about how to sheath the claws. So if it becomes a decision about putting her down or declawing her (assuming she'd make a really nice cat without claws) I would say to do it.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-08-2013, 11:27 PM
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Though if you're going to go for the declaw route, which might be the only option between putting her down or finding her a home, I'd do it soon. The longer you wait, the harder the transition will be, and the harder the loss of her claws will hit her.

Maybe though you could try a less permanent solutions such as nail caps for cats:

Alternatives to Declawing, Nail Caps for Cats

I don't know if that sort of thing is a possibility, or how hard they would be to get on your kitties paws, but it may be worth it to look into.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-09-2013, 01:02 AM
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Any reasonably good groomer can put soft paws on for you. I think simply having her nails trimmed would solve 75% of the problem. Kitten claws are like little razor blades.

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-09-2013, 01:11 AM
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Kittens learn to explore using their claws. Weekly nail trims will more than likely solve the majority of your problems. Also allowing her to get a bit older will more than likely solve the rest
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-09-2013, 01:31 AM
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I don't know much about cats (or kittens) since I'm new to this, but it seems a little bit sad that she's so young and has been returned so often. The youngest of my two sliced my hands up this morning and then tried to climb my leg as if it were his scratcher (or a tree) so I took that as a sign that his nails needed to be trimmed. He's still exploring; he doesn't have it down like his slightly older brother so I cut him some slack and trim his nails often. Sometimes he gets a bit too excited during play time and nibbles or claws at me -- sure it's difficult when his nails aren't trimmed but when they are, I can shrug it off.

Like others, I'd say try trimming the nails first (and you're going to have to do it often since kitten nails seem to grow back way faster than adults) before getting to the point of considering declawing.


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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-09-2013, 04:43 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks to all of you. I should have made it clear in the original post that her nails have been trimmed twice since we got her. She is still using the shortened claws to scratch everything.

We are going to try the nail caps at least for a start. Hopefully she learns.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-15-2013, 02:34 AM
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How is it going? Did you get the nail caps? I heard those work pretty well...
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-15-2013, 04:14 PM
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This has happened to me dozens of times with many cats - my own and many other people's (especially my nephew's cat who died last year). His cat regularly unbalanced whilst on my shoulder - I had bad scratches - I lived with it and loved her. She even opened my cheek once. it was an accident. Did I freak? NO!! I think you have been abnormally lucky to have dealt with so many cats and not come across this before. The second cat I really remember was more than semi-feral (his mother gave birth in a neighbour's outhouse and we adopted him) - and my sister and I still have scars. Our parents didn't freak that this was happening and I wasn't even in Kindergarten at the time. Maybe things are just different where I live. Totally wild animals (and my horses LOL) have done worse. You're a real cat person - I'm sure you'll sort it without de-clawing.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-15-2013, 05:31 PM
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I've also dealt with cats who are like this, all of them had been in a similar situation to this girl. They lived in the shelter, foster homes, kennels at petsmart ect. No one had taught them manners!

The problem isn't that she's mean, or trying to hurt you, it's that she honestly doesn't know any better.

The first thing, aside from getting her spayed which is in the works, is to teach her that people are not to be climbed. Don't pick her up while you're standing, don't let her on your shoulders, be aware of her when she's on higher perches near you and make yourself an unattractive landing-spot.

Most of the things you can do involve dissuading her gently from using you as her personal mobile-cat-tree, but the other part will be exercising her a LOT. Like twice a day, until she starts panting.

This will drain her crazy frantic energy, so she'll be less likely to want to run over you, or climb you like a tree.

My boys had their crazies when they were kittens too, and when they were in 'zoomie mode' they would run straight over me like I was a part of the couch. The way to fix this was by paying attention. When they were in their crazy mood I would sit up, rather than lying down, and clap loudly if they were aiming for me. this made them snap out of their wild-eyed state and realize I was there, and they stopped running over top of me. But I had to be actively paying attention.

She may or may not learn to keep her claws sheathed, but until she grows up a bit and settles down the best thing to do is manage her by making yourself unappealing to climb/jump from, and keep her play times structured with toys she can scratch and bite all she wants without hurting you.

Good luck, it's no fun at all to be a launch-pad.
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