Watch Harvard Cat Behavior Expert Mieshelle Nagelschneider on The Today Show!

Mieshelle guest starred as the Cat Whisperer on Animal Planet's Must Love Cats!

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Cat Clawing and Scratching Furniture?

When cats claw and scratch furniture, they’re performing a natural feline behavior. It’s only deemed a behavior issue if we the owners don’t like where the clawing is occurring. However, there could be other reasons why your cat is clawing, especially if he’s doing so excessively. We’ll help you to identify the environmental triggers for his anxiety that are possibly leading him to claw-mark and release any pent-up tension. Then we’ll show you how to provide them for a lasting remedy.  Our clinic has over 200 testimonials on our website since 1999.

Sometimes excessive clawing is the only sign that your cat is worried. Let’s help him out.

Book a consultation today.

Excerpt from Mieshelle Nagelschneider’s book, The Cat Whisperer, on Clawing Behavior

It’s in the nature of animals, who have a distressing
disregard for sticker prices, sometimes to just tear things up.
Cats will claw silk drapes into streamers, rugs into shreds, and couches
into something that resembles the furniture you see at the most
depressing yard sale you’ve ever been to. Or they do other things to
annoy us, like jumping on the computer keyboard, plucking food off
the dining room table while you’re calling the guests in to eat, or licking
the butter you left on the kitchen counter—even though you have
sat them down many times and carefully explained how the cons of
such behaviors outweigh the pros. Luckily, you can stop all of these

Shredders and Snaggers: Why Cats Claw
Have you ever wondered why your cat runs to your sofa and claws
when you enter the room or come home from work? Although clawing
things is partly about removing old claw sheaths and is necessary
to nail maintenance, cats also claw to mark territory, to exercise, and
to relieve pent-up emotions. Cats are masters at destressing. They
have many ways to release emotional energy even without a membership
at a yoga studio.

Cats claw mark their territory with both a visual and a scent mark,
the latter from the glands between their paw pads. In a single-cat
household these marks give the cat a sense of familiarity and security.
In multi-cat households, cats will, not surprisingly, scratch mark
more often than single cats. Even cats whose toes have been amputated
will paw to place their scent in certain locations around the
home. The marks may also warn other cats and help all concerned to
avoid physical confrontation. One study recently pointed out that cats
have not been observed to actually smell claw marks left by other cats,
so it may be that the visual marks are enough—as may be the ostentation
of a dominant cat scratching in front of a subordinate cat.

Clawing also allows cats to stretch and exercise. Cats are digitigrade,
meaning they walk on their toes instead of the soles of their
feet or paws. Their ligaments, nerves, tendons, muscles, and leg and
paw joints are all designed to distribute and support the cat’s weight
across its toes as it walks and runs. Cats use their claws for balance, for
the climbing that’s so important to their feelings of safety, and to
stretch the muscles in their back, shoulders, legs, and paws. They
stretch their muscles by digging their claws into a surface and then
pulling back in a form of isometric exercise. In fact, clawing is probably
the only way they can exercise the muscles of their backs and

Clawing is a completely natural behavior that cats should be allowed
to perform, but there’s no reason to regard clawing on undesirable
objects, such as couches, as inevitable—which most owners
do. For example, in one study of 122 cats whose owners viewed them
as having no behavior problems, 60 percent of the cats scratched furniture.
If you’re one of these people, I can show you how to make
sure your cat claws only in desirable places. There are humane and
effective solutions. But first, a word about the inhumane practice and
Orwellian linguistic dodge called “declawing.”