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Who Else Wants to Avoid These Cat Claw Catastrophies

Don't get caught holding the bag when your cat decides to claw houseguests and unsuspecting members of your family. Even after you have gotten your cat used to using her own personal scratching post to sharpen her claws on a regular basis, there are still times when your pet may suddenly lash out to claw people. But before you rush to judgement and perhaps punishment, ask yourself to consider the motivation behind such acting out behavior. Cats, like most animals, will lash out when they are afraid. So when your cat suddenly claws people, before you play the blame game with your pet, try to consider both sides of the equation. Is it your cat's fault, or the people around her who have provoked her or made her frightened? I was prime witness to just such a situation when the family who gave me my cat Abby dropped by for a spontaneous, unannounced visit.

They had not seen Abby for about a year. As she had been an exclusively indoor cat, she had no contact with people outside my family. I could tell she was startled when a group of five people barreled into the house. Abby's first response was to dive under the dining room table. The children proceeded to try to yank her out from under the table. I could tell she was frightened.

From under the table I could hear her hissing. A low rumbling growl which I had never heard before was coming from the pit of her stomach. The children kept poking and prodding her even though to me it was obvious she was distressed. They kept waving their hands in front of her face and then pulling them away. To make matters worse, they had also brought one of her littermates, who she now seemed to consider a stranger. In a panic, I rushed to open a sliding glass door so Abby could jump through before the two cats could square off against each other.

I remember thinking that this whole experience was so abrupt and traumatizing for Abby that I couldn't blame her when the claws came out. Yet I'm sure from the looks on the faces of my guests that day, that they blamed me and my cat for their claw marks. They assumed Abby was afraid of or didn't like children. I didn't think that was the issue, it was their sudden entrance which had startled both of us. There are some cats that are afraid of children, but I think most pets respond well to acclimatization. You can expose your cat to young children, like I did.

Just wait a while before you let them loose around your cat. Sit the child next to you and feed your kitty treats, then gradually let the child take over. Do this for small stretches over several sessions. This worked well for me. Abby is now comfortable around the neighborhood children. I'm greatful that Abby was able to get used to being around children, but I could detect that at times she would get jealous of the attention the children received, and would proceed to jump between us.

Some cats do get jealous of certain people. Some cats start acting out and being mean to certain people too. If this situation persists, the only thing to do is remove the cat from the situation. When your cat starts growling or clawing, pick her up and take her to the bathroom until your guest is gone.

You may also advise your guest that if they are also a pet owner, your cat may be responding to the scent on the person's clothes. The worst thing is when your cat consistently claws a family member. If it's a family member, try a commercially available cat repellant or lemon juice to keep the cat away, then acclimatization to get them used to the other person. If all this fails, you may be forced to consider declawing your pet.

Remember that when your pet acts out, there is usually a reason for it. When animals are frightened, the go into defense mode. In these situations, we can often forgive their clawing mistakes. To avoid cat clawing catastrophies, try the steps outlined above. Small doses of exposure to people will usually cure your cat of its' clawing outbursts.

Then again, cats like people, can be finicky with their affections. If you have tried and tried for instance, to get your cat used to your mother in law, but to no avail, what can you do? How can you blame kitty for not liking her? After all, if the truth be known, it's not like you like her that much either.

Romi Matsushita works hard not to frighten her cat. Find great cat care advice, tips, and articles at


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