In the past few years, declawing has become more controversial and common in discussion about the health and well-being of our pets. There are many popular myths when it comes to declawing, as well as strong opinions about the practice. Here are the facts:
Declawing your cat requires amputating their toes.
You read that right. Declawing is not like removing fingernails would be for a human being. A cat’s claws grow from the toes in the tips of their toes, so declawing your cat actually involved amputating a large portion of the bones in your cat’s paws. This can be done with a manual clipper, or with a laser. Both methods can be just as harmful to your cat.
Declawing is likely to lead to infections and other short or long term problems.
Considering that declawing is a surgical procedure on a cat’s paws, which they use to walk around on, your cat is highly likely to experience infections and other complications in their paws following declawing. Growth of the nails can continue inside the paw if the paws are not properly declawed, causing unimaginable pain and chronic infection. Cats who have been declawed are also more likely to experience ongoing pain or arthritis of the paws and legs later in life.
Cats who are declawed are likely to experience problems eliminating in a litter box after the procedure.
Declawed cats are also likely to have problems eliminating in the litter box, as pawing through the litter can cause extreme pain and discomfort. Even after the paws have healed, your cat is likely to have developed a negative association with the box, which can lead to lifelong elimination problems.
Roughly 1/3 of all declawed cats develop behavioral problems as a result.
That’s right, at least a third of all declawed cats show signs of behavioral problems following the procedure. After losing their claws, cats may feel insecure or threatened, leading them to be far more likely to bite or show aggression to people or other animals in other ways.
A cat’s claws is it’s primary form of defense.
A cat needs it’s claws in order to properly defend itself when threatened by people, or more importantly, other animals. Declawing your cat will prevent it from being able to defend itself when facing potential dangers.
Declawing has been ruled inhumane, and is illegal in many US cities across California.
A total of eight major cities in the state of California have now passed an ordinance banning the procedure of declawing, and doing so in those areas is punishable under law.
Now that you know the facts about declawing, what can you do to deter your cat from using it’s claws to be destructive or aggressive? There are plenty of options:
Get your cat’s claws trimmed regularly.
Getting your cat’s claws trimmed every four to six weeks can highly decrease destruction to your home. If you are not comfortable doing this yourself at home, you may be able to take your cat in to a groomer, or to your veterinarian to have their nails trimmed. Doing this is the equivalent of trimming your fingernails, and causes the cat no harm, but can decrease any damage from scratching at furniture, etc.
Invest in nail caps like Soft Paws.
Another great alternative to declawing is to use nail caps like Soft Paws. For a small price, you can find these caps online or at your local pet store, and carefully glue them over your cat’s natural nail. These will allow your cat to still use and comfortable flex his or her claws without causing any actual damage to your furniture or home. These are also a great option if you fear your cat will use their claws in aggression with other people, children, or animals in your home.
Play with your cat and keep him or her active.
Keeping your cat active is very important in controlling his or her behavior and decreasing or eliminating destruction of your home. Typically it is recommended to play with your cat for 30 to 45 minutes each day. You can do this with various toys to keep their bodies and minds stimulated.
Supply your cat with scratching posts and other materials to scratch.
It is so important to keep scratching posts around your home. This will give your cat something to scratch to keep their paws exercised, without being destructive. With some effort, it’s not difficult to train your cat which surfaces are acceptable to scratch and which are not.
* “A Rational Look at Declawing,” www.bornfreeusa.org
* “Declawing Cats: Far Worse Than a Manicure,” www.humanesociety.org