by Sojos | January 18, 2013
Much like roses have thorns, cats naturally come with claws. What can be useful tools – and, in the wild, a necessary evolutionary trait – can also cause problems in the home. When kitty starts to scratch on a beloved piece of furniture, it can be an expensive frustration. In many cases, avoiding those frustrations is the reason behind getting a cat declawed. Before you make the decision to do so, it’s important to know some key facts about the procedure.
While cats’ claws grow like our finger and toenails do, they are completely different. Claws are actually attached to a moveable digit, which is a part of the cat’s toe. Declawing, then, is not just cutting off the claw – it’s the amputation of that entire digit. It’s a fairly significant surgery, and one that can cause your cat a significant amount of pain. Keep in mind that after the surgery’s done, your cat has to go about his life, walking, jumping, scratching in the litter box, while experiencing that pain.
In a number of countries where cats are kept as pets, declawing is illegal. While some groups in the United States advocate for a ban on declawing, it’s still legal in all 50 states.
The Minnesota-based Animal Humane Society points out that destructive behavior involving clawing is a factor in many people abandoning cats – or even euthanizing them. They suggest that owners consider alternative ways to mitigate the behavior, like vinyl nail caps, which can be placed over claws.
Another option, in some cases, is to trim your cat’s nails. If your cat is not accustomed to this, it’s a good idea to ease her into it. Don’t force a trimming session in which she’s being held down and becoming stressed or frantic. Start by getting her used to her paws being touched, then move on to gently pressing down to expose the claw. You might not even move on to that second step for a while, but it’s better that she learns slowly that you mean her no harm when you touch her paws. When she’s comfortable, try trimming a nail or two, and praise her for allowing you to do it.
If your cat has her claws and you’re concerned about scratching, give her a scratching post and encourage her to use it. Make sure it won’t tip over and scare her away – and drive her to try out the couch as an alternative.
The declawing debate isn’t going away anytime soon, but making the right choice for your cat can be much easier when you’re fully aware of the facts and your options.