Declawing cats is quite common in the U.S., with around 25% of cat owners confirming they’ve done it to their Garfield. Although some states prohibit this practice and some cat owners have more than one pet cat that has been declawed, this number holds true in general.
Pro-declawing owners argue that the practice is much better than surrendering your cat to a shelter. All cat owners know how much cats love scratching almost anything in the house. Those sharp, little claws can shred your couch and leave ugly, permanent marks on wooden furniture; wait ’til they get their paws on that antique dresser. Declawing seems to be the preferable option for your cute but destructive kitty over the cold, prison-like environment of a cat shelter.
Is there really no other way?
First, we have to understand how the declawing surgery is done and what it does to your feline companion.
Every time we trim our nails, they grow back in a week. This is a good sign that our nail bed still remains intact and is able to grow nails like normal.
Declawing does more than just clipping the nails. It involves the removal of the area where the nail itself rests so that claws won’t grow back. That’s like having your whole fingernails removed in one go, or maybe even worse. In cat terms, declawing removes the whole ‘fingertip’, amputating the last bone of the knuckles of each toe on your cat’s front paws.
Imagine you’re in the shoes (or paws) of your cat. Would you like that?
Cats use their toes when they walk and you’ve just had them removed. You’ve altered the way they naturally walk, moreover, taking away their grip for climbing.
Declawing is a painless and simple surgery. The vet will just slice the skin, then the joint capsule, and then the joining ligaments, several blood vessels, and finally the muscles that bind one toe bone to the next ‘ for each and every toe on the front paw. This much ouch has been associated with post-surgery pains that can affect even your cat’s behaviour.
If you’ve read this far, you should have noticed that I’m against declawing.
When the town of Los Angeles Heights declared declawing as illegal, the percentage of cats given up to shelters went down by a surprising 22%. Everyone might have expected it to increase, but no, it didn’t. This is mainly due to the fact that declawing doesn’t solve issues, rather it adds to the cat’s behavioral issues.
Picture this: cat goes home after the surgery, bladder in full tank, distressed to pee. Your cat relieves on their litter place and starts to dig afterwards (because that’s what cats do), only to find themselves in terrible pain. The cat might associate the pain with the litter area, avoiding it at all costs, and starts looking for another area to pee. This introduces an inappropriate and displeasing behavioral pattern in your household.
Cats draw their claws to warn you or anyone to step back. For instance, you’re playing with your kitty cat and they swipe you with claws retracted ‘ that’s a warning. Heed it or the next one will come with claws out. Now that you have a declawed cat, they don’t have a way to warn you other than biting.
The path to peace is compromise.
Owners have to understand that scratching is part of their cat’s natural behavior, just like the way we humans buy things on sale. Forcing cats to stop clawing is tantamount to having them stop moving. Cats extend their claws out as part of their daily exercise and scratching is how they imprint on their territory.
Cats feel secure in places where they’ve marked as their territory. This is the reason why they frequent areas with your scent like your couch or your bed. It’s sweet but can be uncomfortable at times. Teach your cat to end this habit by compromising with each other.
Give your cat a tough scratch post near the area or thing you want to be left alone. For further instructions, look at our post on how to save your carpet from your cat. This method allows your cat to mark the territory and leave their scent on it without causing collateral damage to your furniture.
Take away the satisfaction your cat feels from scratching wooden furniture by putting double-sided tape on it. This will make it unpleasant for them to scratch and leave your things alone.
Another option is to just regularly clip your cat’s nails. It’s just a monthly thing. Look for an opportunity when your cat is stress-free and bring a lot of treats. Clip their claws one at a time and give them a reward after finishing each one. This way, they’ll associate nail clipping with getting something tasty. Continue to do this until it becomes a part of their habit.
For a quicker compromise, there are vinyl claw caps like Soft Paws, which you can put on their claws after trimming. These caps will keep the pointed claw tips away from causing any more damage to your beloved furniture. They are available on the market and are easy to apply.
There are lots of other alternatives over declawing. Declawing does not solve the problem but creates more instead. The procedure will just hurt your furry furball and inhibit them from doing their natural activities.