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Posted by Linda Merrill | Nov 02, 2010

A New Way to Protect Furniture from Pet Scratches

Photo: Soft PawsOur pets: we adore them and they are members of our family. And in general, they have pretty low expectations of their surroundings. They want food, a soft place to sleep and love. But while they might not be too interested in their surroundings, they can still have a large, negative impact on the rooms they inhabit with us.

As with human babies, animal babies are orally focused and investigate their surroundings with their mouths by chewing and licking, and also self-comfort by chewing and sucking. Our favorite sofa leg can, in fact, become our new puppie's "binkie" until he outgrows the stage. As they grow up, an animal's natural instincts call them to mark their territory both visually and by smell. Even the most pampered of indoor-only pets feel the need to make their presence known by chewing or clawing the furniture, or by urinating in unfortunate locations. Even training our pets to relieve themselves in a certain area can result in scratch marks on or around doors as they try to get to their "spot" in a hurry. They don't have verbal language, but they sure have body language!

Understanding our pet's proclivities for chewing and scratching is important when selecting new furnishings and carpets. Sharp claws and paw nails will easily pull up looped carpet pile and loose fabric threads on furniture. Leather furniture will show scratch marks, as will velvets. Aside from training and constant reminders to our pets not to scratch, what can you do?

Soft Paws may be the answer to the scratching problems of both cats and dogs. Developed by a veterinarian, Soft Paws are tiny little colorful non-toxic caps for your pet's nails. De-clawing cats has long been a method of dealing with scratching, but it's a painful procedure and renders the animal helpless with no ability to ward off attack from other animals. Soft Paws merely covers the claws up to the nail bed, allowing the cat, or dog, to scratch without causing harm. The caps are easy to apply and are held in place with a non-toxic glue and an internal "cleating" that grabs hold of the nail. Eventually, they will drop off as the cat's outer nail coat sheds or the nail grows out somewhat. According to the website, most pets take less than thirty minutes to acclimate to the caps, although some can take longer.

It's important to note that these caps do limit the animal's ability to protect themselves with their claws or nails, so it's important to keep them indoors or leashed when outdoors. The caps come in varying sizes from puppy/kitten size to small, medium or large sizes. Matching the size cap to the animal is important, as a too large cap may dig into the nail bed and a too small cap will not fit well and allow for a gap between the cap and nail bed, which can catch on carpet or furniture. Reviews from those who have used Soft Paws on their cats are generally very positive, with a few negative reports. Mostly, it appears the bad results may have come from improper application.

If you've been dealing with a scratching problem and have not been able to break your beloved pet of this destructive habit, then you may wish to try out Soft Paws and with luck, your pet will happily be able to scratch, without causing damage to your home.

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