Just Say No to Declawing!

January 9, 2016 - Nate Needs

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Thinking of getting your cat declawed-

Imagine this:  You’re waking up from a long nap to find yourself in extreme pain.  Each of your fingertips has been amputated down to the first knuckle.  You are unable to use your hands normally and comfortably until weeks have passed, perhaps even months.  Sounds like some sort of medieval torture, right?  Wrong.  This is what we do to cats when we have them declawed.

Sound extreme?  It is.  That’s why many vets won’t even perform the surgery anymore.  A cat’s claws grow from tiny pieces of bone, and in order to keep the claw from growing back, veterinarians must remove that bone completely.  There are multiple ways of doing the surgery, but all are very time-consuming and painful for the cat….and 99.9 percent of the time, it’s completely unnecessary.  (The only time we advocate for declawing a cat is if a claw has a tumor, infection, or is damaged and removal is medically necessary.)  The surgery is painful, and the recovery time can be lengthy.  Even after that, there can be complications; you can’t sterilize this area, so infections are likely.  Not to mention that if your kitty ever gets out of your house and outside, it will have no way to defend itself against predators.

The majority of the time, the reason for getting a cat declawed is to benefit the owner, not the cat.  Usually, the kitty is clawing and destroying furniture or rugs.  This, believe it or not, is often reason enough for many people to surrender their cat to a shelter.  In our opinion, pets are family members and are much more important than couches and chairs – – but to keep your furniture scratch-free, there are many other solutions that don’t involve extreme surgery!

  1.  Train your cat to use a scratching post.  Training is admittedly much easier to do when you have a kitten, but older cats can learn too!  Putting various scratchers and scratching post around the house (and maybe luring your cat in with some catnip or yummy treats!) can be very effective – the cat will be much less likely to scratch at your furniture if he has another way to stretch and sharpen his claws.
  2. Trim your cat’s claws regularly.  A weekly nail-trim will keep the damage to furniture pretty minimal.
  3. Soft Claws nail caps.  These are vinyl caps that fit over the cat’s claws; they stay on with adhesive for about a month.  The caps make claws unable to do any damage to furniture or carpet.  They break off on their own as the claws grow, and they come in lots of fun colors!
  4. Safe sprays like Feliway.  One of the reasons cats scratch or rub against objects is to leave their scent.  Feliway contains synthetic feline pheromones that, while undetectable to human noses, give off a comforting scent to your cat.  Spray it on furniture that you would like your kitty to stay away from, and the pheromones will “de-stress” your cat and make her feel safe, secure, and much less likely to do any stress-induced scratching.  You can also purchase citrus sprays that act as deterrents – cats don’t like the smell/taste of citrus, so they will stay away from it.
  5. Double-stick tape.  Double-sided tape also acts as a deterrent.  The sticky surface will make the side of your couch much less inviting to your cat – their paw pads are very sensitive, and the sticky surface will annoy them and keep them from scratching.

Keep in mind that clawing is a healthy and normal behavior for cats.  Feel free to mix and combine these techniques to find what works for your cat.  Does your cat like sisal or carpeted scratching posts?  Does Feliway keep your kitty away from furniture, or does citrus spray work better?  Every cat is different, but every cat is also trainable – there is no reason to have your cat declawed when it is possible to fix the issue using these tips.

Visit the Pets WebMD page and the Humane Society website for this information and more!


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