“Declawing a cat would be the equivalent of cutting off all ten of your fingers at the last knuckle.” Uhm, ouch. Not something I would willingly subject myself to. The being said, if I wouldn’t be cool with losing my fingers, why would my cat?
Many people mistakenly believe that declawing their cat will solve behavioral issues like scratching furniture. But in reality, declawing can create more behavioral issues like biting, not suing the litter box and even lasting physical problems.
Declawing is not simply trimming the cat’s nails, it’s not even a simple procedure. Declawing often involves the use of a scalpel or guillotine clipper to amputate the last bone of each toe. The wounds are closed with stitches or surgical glue, and the feet are bandaged. This procedure provides absolutely no health benefits to the cat and is a completely unnecessary procedure. Cat parents could just as easily train their cats to use scratching posts to scratch and trim their nails (which is one of the reasons they do it as well as remove the dead husks from their claws, mark territory, and stretch their muscles).
Medical drawbacks to declawing include pain in the paw, infection, tissue necrosis (tissue death), lameness, and back pain. Removing claws changes the way a cat’s foot meets the ground and can cause pain similar to wearing an uncomfortable pair of shoes or walking around with pebbles in your shoes. There can also be a regrowth of improperly removed claws, nerve damage, and bone spurs. Some cats may become biters because they no longer have their claws for defense.
My biggest regret as a cat parent was getting my first two cats declawed. Having never owned a cat before, we went on the advice of others (before this information was relevant) and had their claws removed. My cats were indoor-outdoor cats, which was also a mistake. Because they had no claws, thereby losing their only method of defense, they both lost their lives to a neighborhood dog. Had they still had their claws (or been kept inside) they may still be here – N E V E R something I did again.
If you are worried about your cat damaging your home, or want to avoid unwanted scratching, start with these tips:
- Keep their claws trimmed to minimize damage to household items.
- Provide stable scratching posts and boards around your home. Offer different materials like carpet, sisal, wood, and cardboard, as well as different styles (vertical and horizontal). Use toys and catnip to entice your cat to use the posts and boards.
- Ask your veterinarian about soft plastic caps (like Soft Paws®) that are glued to the cat’s nails. They need to be replaced about every six weeks. Or Kitty Kaps (sold at petssmart) that you can put on your cats claws at home!
- Attach a special tape (like Sticky Paws®) to furniture to deter your cat from unwanted scratching.