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Behavior

Paws Need Claws! 4 Humane Alternatives to Declawing Your Cat

Declawing cats is perhaps the most controversial surgical procedure performed by veterinarians today. So controversial, in fact, that countless people consider it a cruel form of mutilation. It’s illegal in many parts of the world, including England, Australia, Germany, Finland, Brazil and many other countries, where it’s considered inhumane. The recovery from a declaw surgery results in excruciating pain for the cat. A cat’s claws are vital – they are not only a defense mechanism – they provide balance, mobility, exercise, and stretch, and they allow him to mark his territory.

To understand why declawing is so very controversial, we need to understand exactly what’s involved in the procedure. It’s not merely a trimming of the claws. Declawing is a surgical removal of the claws. And to prevent the regrowth of those claws, the entire first joint of each toe is amputated.

Imagine having your fingers and toes amputated at the first knuckle, and then imagine the pain of walking on them afterward.

But the short-term effects of declawing are not the only problems. Declawing can lead to serious long-term physical and behavioral problems with cats. Declawed cats may avoid the litter box because many litters are too painful for their tender paws. Since their primary defense is gone, declawed cats may turn to biting as a defense mechanism. Cats walk on their toes, and once they are declawed and their first joints are amputated, their gait will change which may eventually lead to arthritis and pain in the legs, hips, and back.

Many cat owners have seen the devastating effects of declawing on their own beloved pets and have vowed they would never do it again, knowing what they know now. Fortunately for cats, there are plenty of humane alternatives to declawing.

Training:

Scratching is a natural behavior for cats, and you don’t want to stop your cat from doing it. The goal is to teach your cat what is acceptable to scratch and what isn’t. The best way to do this is to provide plenty of scratching posts, cat trees and scratchers in varying materials and locations throughout your home. Also, make your furniture and carpet (and whatever you don’t want your cat to scratch) less desirable, by using double-sided tape, aluminum foil or deterrents. Reward your cat whenever he scratches an appropriate surface and be consistent with your training. Never punish him for scratching inappropriately, instead, redirect him to an appropriate surface. Learn more about how to keep your cat from scratching your furniture here.

Nail Trimming:

Many people don’t know how to trim their cat’s nails, but keeping them short is often adequate for saving your furniture! Every cat parent should have a good pair of cat nail clippers and learn to trim their nails every one to two weeks.

Nail Caps:

Nail caps are a simple solution to problem scratching and a preferred alternative to declawing. They are smooth vinyl caps that glue over a cat’s claws and help protect your furniture from damage caused by scratching. They’re available in clear or just about any color you can think of – even glitter and glow in the dark – and most cats tolerate them very well.

Feliway:

Feliway is available as a room plugin or a spray and it mimics the scent of a cat’s facial pheromones. It’s useful for getting cats to stop urine marking and, as such, is believed to help with cats who mark with their claws, too.

Because there are so many humane alternatives to declawing, there is really no valid reason to consider declawing as a solution for scratching. As we like to say, paws need claws! Please don’t declaw.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: 5 Cat Myths...Debunked! - The Catington Post

  2. ERIN K SIKA

    Apr 18, 2019 at 10:14 pm

    I took in a stray cat, there are hundreds everywhere around here covered in mats, fleas, earmites, sores, not to mention the overabundance in our high kill shelters. So this cat came, followed me and wouldn’t go away, she was in horrible shape. She’s pretty nice, I have never owned a cat, I have dogs, but I decided to give her a chance rather than her death which is certain whether she goes to the shelter or stays on the streets. I took her to the vet and got her fixed right up, I found she prefers to be indoors but likes to hang out in my fenced in yard with my dogs occasionally. She likes to scratch though, mind you I have THREE dogs that I trained to wipe their feet when coming in my house, this cat wants to dig on my thousands of dollars worth of furniture. I bought the caps, clipped her nails, put them on, she chews them off immediately, clipped nails DO NOT mean they cannot scratch your furniture, why that’s even suggested to help the problem is ridiculous. I bought the no scratch spray, continuously sprayed it on everything, hundreds of dollars in cat scratching posts and cat nip, used the spray bottle, rattled a noisy can, did the room plug ins and looked up every trick I could find, she still tries to scratch on my furniture. No one around here wants a cat, they are literally everywhere rehoming is not an option. That is not a very good list of alternatives, because frankly they don’t always work. Now I am not a cat person, but I love animals, I also know though that there is always more than one side to an argument with very valid reasons. I don’t work my life away to have nice stuff just for a cat to ruin it, she lives in the lap of luxury, doesn’t have a care or need that is unmet, she has no need to defend herself. We do many things with domesticated animals that are unnatural if they were in their natural habitat, it is cruel to keep dogs locked up and on leashes when they just want to run frolic and be free. Many would say that most of what we do with domesticated animals is in fact inhumane, spaying and neutering is in fact inhumane. In their natural state they would be free to reproduce and sustain this VERY ingrained instinct, natural selection would keep the population down as it is intended, why mutilate them? So we can have pets? The idea of keeping pets in general is inhumane, mastering our little slaves and they can only do what we allow them to. If I was locked up with 99 other humans and had a choice, die or get my fingers cut off to the first knuckle and live in luxury I would choose option 2. Heck, I don’t even have to be faced with death, kick back and be taken care of for the rest of my life… I’m all for alternatives, but most of these alternatives are best trained into an animal if you’ve obtained it when it is young. I would have never went and gotten a kitten, this cat chose me, the vet says she is about a year and a half old, I have been working with her for months, your great alternatives are NOT working. My dogs can do backflips on command, I know how to train an animal, I have done my research. Oh highly intelligent person that says there is always an alternative, please tell me what her alternatives are now, and one of them is not continuing to destroy my furniture. She goes to the high kill shelter that most never see daylight again, there isn’t anywhere else for hundreds of miles, she gets declawed, or is there some miracle way of making her stop?

    • John

      Jun 11, 2019 at 4:59 am

      You are spot on. We pick and choose what we find acceptable and then tell everyone that’s the way it is. Usually it works out for the best. I don’t believe that declawing is the horrible inhumane nightmare these people are saying it is.
      I’ve had cats. I think when they are declawed and fixed (spayed or neutered) they are better pets. Nothing here makes me think otherwise.

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