I received quite a few letters with suggestions on how to keep the cats from sharpening their claws on the furniture. For those with that problem, perhaps some of these ideas will help.

DEAR JOAN: The solution that I learned about from a lady at the Bengal cats magazine company was to use bitter apple spray on the furniture. You can get it from most pet stores. The only drawback is if you get the solution on your hands, you'll want to wash them thoroughly because it has a bad taste.

Another solution she told me was to get a container of citrus air freshener that you can set on a table near the furniture. Cats do not like the smell of citrus.

I just found this out so I have to purchase mine, but she said that with both of them work, especially the bitter apple spray.

L.B.

Bay Area

DEAR JOAN: Cat's hate plastic so I went to the hardware store and bought the big sofa-size plastic sheet that goes over furniture when you are painting. It was only a few dollars. You can see through it and kitty stays off the plastic.

Eventually I was able to get rid of the plastic. I now have a regular sofa throw that helps to keep it clean.

We are all happy now. Using the plastic may look odd, but it doesn't look any worse than shredded furniture. I love my animals dearly and there are loving ways to keep nice un-shredded furniture and kitties together in the same room.

Sandra Vallerga

Clayton

DEAR JOAN: I have a method that has never failed through a series of cats over 30 years.

The sheet. OK, so it is not wonderful, but a matching set of twin, double, full flat sheets draped over furniture and tied with a ribbon at the leg if necessary or tacked into place is a quick, cheap and easy way to go. I have them everywhere and can just take them off easily for cleaning or company.

Chair covers. I have made custom chair covers of polished cotton for many better pieces of furniture and our dining room chairs. The dining room ones tie with bows at the back of each chair. I take them off for company and washing.

Get your fabric from a reputable upholstery fabric store not a general merchandiser of fabric. You get better quality and selection. The most important issue is that fabric must have absolutely no texture to catch their claws. Polished cotton is the best; suede also works well. Do not get leather.

Every public library will have books on upholstery and how to make slip covers.

Arlynn Grimm

Livermore

DEAR JOAN: We have two indoor cats and for the most part our furniture is intact. We have scratching posts or pads all over the house, but when their claws start growing, we clip their nails. They still have their feet intact, have not endured the pain of declawing and they lose the sharp ends of their claws that cause damage not only to the furniture but to our laps.

You can buy fancy clippers at pet stores, or do as my husband does and use toenail clippers. You just have to be a little careful not to clip too far down so as not to hit the nerve and blood supply. Do you love your cats enough to spend about five minutes every week on this?

Joanna Henrichs

El Cerrito

Contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com. Read the Animal Life blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/pets.