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What is declawing?
Declawing is an unnecessary and expensive surgery that fewer vets are willing to perform, and some states have banned. It is the amputation of the last bone of each toe and severing of tendons. Declawing alters the way a cat walks, their balance, and their ability to jump. For comparison, it would be like cutting our finger off at the first knuckle. Many people don’t realize the pain that a declaw surgery can cause. It is as unethical as tail docking and ear clipping in dogs. People who declaw their cats may not be aware that the surgery can cause more problems than it solves.
Not only is the surgery quite painful, but cats may experience lifelong pain, suffer from joint stiffness, or develop severe arthritis that requires medication as they age after a declaw. In certain cats, it may leave psychological scars that translate into behavioral problems. Declawing is essentially done for the convenience of humans — to the detriment of the cat. You are working against rather than with your kitty if you force him to endure needless pain and put him at risk for developing negative side-effects to the surgery.
The pain may result in the following behavioral problems and lead to rehoming, surrender to a shelter, abandonment, or euthanasia.
Handling Sensitivity – The cat not wanting to be touched
Increased Biting – Without their main defense, a declawed cat may bite more often
Litterbox Avoidance – Cats deprived of their front claws may develop an aversion to the litter box. Their paws remain sensitive from the surgery, so they avoid scratching in their litter and may begin eliminating around the house instead.
Declawing leaves cats without one of their primary defense mechanisms and impairs their balance and ability to climb.
MYTH: Declawing prevents cats from scratching furniture, thereby keeping them in their home.
FACT: There are humane alternatives to prevent furniture scratching that does not involve surgical amputation. Declawed cats are also defenseless and can never go outside!
If you want to protect your furniture, there are humane alternatives to declawing. Cats scratch to remove the dead outer layer of their claws, mark their territory, and stretch and flex their paws. It’s important to provide an appropriate place for them to express this natural behavior and provide nail maintenance to avoid unwanted scratching.
There are also several different products available at pet supply stores to discourage your cat from scratching the furniture. You can apply clear, sticky strips called Sticky Paws to your furniture or spray the furniture with a smell (like citrus) that cats don’t like.
Never punish your cat for scratching.
- Put a scratching post in a high-traffic area of a room where you spend a lot of time.
- Ensure vertical scratching posts are sturdy, won’t tip over, and tall enough to allow the cat to extend when stretching fully.
- Try a horizontal and vertical scratching pad to see which your cat prefers.
- You can encourage your kitty to use the scratching post by rubbing or spraying it with catnip.
Soft paws are vinyl caps you glue onto your cat’s nails. They need to be reapplied every 4-6 weeks and allow the normal function of a cat’s paw.
Trimming your cat’s nails every couple of weeks helps prevent destructive clawing.
Gently squeeze their paw to extend the claws. Look for the quick—an area that contains nerves and blood vessels that support the claw, and cut below this area. Carefully trim the tip of the nail horizontally to the ground. Use sharp nail trimmers designed for cats.
If you would like more information about declawing and alternatives to it, visit The Paw Project at www.pawproject.org.