Paws Come with Claws: Declawing Cats

facebook twitter Share on Google+

Many owners elect to declaw their cats so that the cat does not scratch furniture, other pets, children, or even the owners themselves.  Many people are under the impression that declawing is the equivalent to cutting our fingernails when, in fact, declawing involves the amputation of the last part of the cat’s toe.

cat-claw-with-finger

Please review the following information if you are considering declawing:

  • The healing process can be very painful and can lead to long-term health issues.
  • Postoperative complications include hemorrhages, infections, and nail regrowth.
  • Declawing robs cats of their ability to climb and scratch (a method of marking territory), which are instinctual acts that cats truly enjoy.
  • Without the ability to scratch, cats are defenseless against the attacks of other animals or predators, especially if the cat ever gets outdoors.
  • Some cats undergo drastic behavior changes after the declawing process.  Some cats become very aggressive and are much quicker to bite.  Other cats become very timid and are more prone to hide and avoid social interaction.

There are newer types of surgeries that have become available that serve the same purpose as traditional declawing. Laser surgery supposedly reduces bleeding and makes for a shorter recovery time.  However, laser surgery still involves the amputation at the last joint of each digit and does not help any of the other physical or psychological problems associated with declawing.  Tenectomy leaves the claws in place but involves the severing of the tendons used to contract the claws.  With tenectomy, owners must continually monitor and trim the cat’s nails because, if left unattended, the nails can grow into the paw pads and cause infection since cat is no longer able to naturally file their claws via scratching.

Alternatives to Declawing

Scratching Posts: Offering your cat the proper scratching alternatives will both save your furniture as well as help keep your cat’s nails filed.

  • Pay close attention to the angle, material, and location of the furniture your cat has been scratching and offer them similar alternatives.
  • Use catnip to lure your cat to their scratching post.

Training: Apply double sided tape or Sticky Paws to the area that they have been scratching to discourage them.

  • You can also employ loud noises and a spray bottle if they attempt to scratch the furniture.

Nail Caps: There are also products offered that involve capping each nail with a dull, plastic cover in order to reduce the severity of any scratches.

Declawing and tenectomies should only be considered after exhausting all other options and where the only other alternatives are the animal shelter or euthanasia.  If a procedure must be done, research and invest in an experienced surgeon and carefully work with your veterinarian to develop a well-medicated and caring recovery plan.

For more useful information, please download our free Cat manual.