With so many behavioral and training products that address all unacceptable feline behaviors—particularly destruction of furniture—many believe there is no need for cat owners to even consider declawing a cat, an operation that the veterinary community says causes behavioral issues, especially relating to litter box usage.
“Pet owners often believe that declawing their cats is a harmless and quick fix for unwanted scratching, similar to trimming one’s nails. But if a declawing procedure were performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle,” explained Dr. Valarie V. Tynes, DVM, Dipl. ACVB, veterinary services specialist at Ceva Animal Health. “The procedure and recovery is painful for cats of all ages and can lead to behavioral issues that may be worse than a shredded couch. Declawed cats can be less likely to use a litter box, more likely to bite, and the disruption of the natural scratching behavior can cause lasting physiological problems.”
Because scratching is a normal feline trait to mark their territory, to sharpen claws to maintain a cat’s innate hunting and climbing skills, and to relieve stress, re-directing to appropriate scratch places can be further helped with the use of the company’s new FELISCRATCH by FELIWAY.
“With most cats, one month of treatment is all it takes to permanently get cats scratching on their scratching post or other proper spot,” Dr. Tynes said. “FELISCRATCH is a lasting solution that we believe will revolutionize feline veterinary care and could one day make declawing a procedure of the past.”
“This product has been clinically proven to stop and prevent both vertical and horizontal destructive scratching in the home by redirecting your cat to scratch in the right place,” added Dr. Jen Styrsky, DVM and Feliway marketing manager. “In clinical studies, FELISCRATCH attracted more than 80 percent of cats to use their scratching posts within the first week of use. More than 90 percent of cats never started destructive scratching when adopted into a new home using FELISCRATCH.”
FELISCRATCH comes in liquid pipettes so that it’s easy to apply to both vertical and horizontal scratching posts. And, as part of the product’s introduction to the market, Ceva also launched a website called Save the Couches (www.savethecouches.com) as an engaging tool to help educate consumers about why cats scratch and the potential harm declawing may present for their health and wellbeing.
Another option, Comfort Zone Calming Products has redesigned its diffusers and reformulated its proprietary pheromone formulas.
“The Comfort Zone Cat Calming Diffuser is now proven to be 95 percent effective at reducing urine marking and 93 percent effective at reducing destructive scratching,” explained Scott Lazarczyk, senior vice president and general manager for the brand. “Our new Comfort Zone Multi-Cat Diffuser is now 88 percent effective at reducing multi-cat tension and conflict. The new, drug-free formula mimics cats’ natural soothing pheromones to provide a sense of safety and security while mitigating the negative behaviors caused by stress, such as scratching, fighting, and spraying.”
The new look diffusers are more stream-lined in shape and have a ceramic lining to keep them cool to the touch.
For Miyuki Takeda, owner of High Paw Pet Supply in Fairplay, Colorado, the variety of products she stocks to curb cat behavioral problems is based on her own personal experiences as well as on intel from her customers.
“Pheromone products are very popular. I stock a full selection of sprays and diffusers and collars,” she said. “The latter sell very well because of their price point and their longevity.”
Strips and Additives
A product such as Sticky Paws, available in sheets, strips and on a roll, is designed to place on designated no-scratch zones to ensure the cat gets the message and focuses on appropriate, designated places.
According to Shannon Supanich, marketing manager for Pioneer Pets, the Sticky Paws rolls and strips are both top sellers.
“The product also works on most leathers, but we always recommend trying a spot that is not visible first, as there are different types and qualities of leather,” she explained. “We recommend putting Sticky Paws on a spot where the cat is scratching and then placing a scratcher right near that spot. This helps to re-direct negative behavior as generally cats like to wake up from a snooze and scratch. So, by strategically placing a scratcher close by and adding cat nip to attract the cat, this will detract away from furniture and other items in the home.”
There is no question that scratching posts—especially tall ones such as the 32-inch SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post from Pioneer Pets—as well as the large variety of corrugated scratches in all shapes, sizes and designs from a plethora of companies are a cat owner’s best friends.
There is a growing number of litter additives to attract cats to the litterbox as well as stand-alone attraction products such as Fresh Step Litter Box Attractant that’s made with a proprietary blend of natural herbs that attracts cats to the litter box. It can be combined with any kind of litter and is ideal for training a kitten to use the litter box or correcting inappropriate elimination behavior in an older cat.
According to Anne Marie Ghigo, associate director of brand engagement for Fresh Step Litter at Clorox, the product is also helpful in transitioning cats from one litter brand to another, as it can be generously sprinkled onto the litter and mixed in. The product can also be added each time the litter box is cleaned and filled with fresh litter.
Tools and Sprays
Since the invention of the patented Pet Corrector by Dr. Roger Mugford, animal psychologist and CEO of The Company of Animals, over 3 million units of the product have been sold worldwide. The product has been re-branded and the new look debuted this past June at SuperZoo. Originally designed as a dog behavior training tool, the product, which emits a hiss of compressed air, works equally well on cats.
“I encourage users to make the shortest possible duration of hiss from the Pet Corrector and that it not be pointed directly at the pet,” Mugford explained. “Timing of application is vital and if not perfectly associated with conduct of the ‘crime,’ the Pet Corrector should not be used. All these do’s and don’ts are well covered in the packaging and associated training leaflet as well as on our website.
“The overwhelming feedback we’ve obtained has indicated that it stops severely troublesome behavior remarkably fast; in as few as three or four exposures. Thereafter, simply showing the Pet Corrector (i.e. holding it in the hand) is sufficient,” he added.
ThunderWorks’ foray into feline behavior products started with the introduction of the feline ThunderShirt, designed to have a swaddling—and hence, a calming—effect on anxious cats. The company has increased its feline product line. ThunderEase, a formulation of calming pheromones, comes in two different varieties and with different delivery systems to handle various anxiety situations, according to ThunderWorks CEO and founder Phil Blizzard.
“For travel-related anxiety, ThunderEase Spray is the right choice. Just spray eight to 10 pumps in the car, carrier or whatever environment your pet will be traveling about 15 minutes prior to departure. The benefits begin as soon as the cat is exposed to the calming pheromones,” he said. “For scratching or spraying problems at home, the room diffuser kit is ideal. Just set it up in whichever rooms your cat spends the most time and let it run continuously. Refills typically last 30 days.”
The product is also available in diffusers and the brand makes similar products for dogs. Blizzard explained that pet owners planning to introduce a dog into a cat household can plug both a cat and a dog diffuser into the same room to keep both species calmer and more accepting of each other.