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Should You Declaw Your Cat?

While declawing your cat may seem like a normal, routine procedure, the reality is more complicated. Many people consider declawing to be inhumane, and it is actually illegal in 22 countries and several U.S. cities, where the surgery has been banned as a form of cruelty to animals.

To understand why declawing is controversial, please take into consideration the following facts and alternatives, especially before moving forward and declawing your feline friend.

Why Declawing Isn’t Declawing

“Declawing” is actually a misnomer because more than the claws are removed. During surgery, the last bone of each toe is amputated.

Imagine that you are a cat. You essentially walk around on your fingertips. Declawing involves amputating all of your fingertips. Now imagine trying to walk on the stumps that remain. A better name for a forelimb declaw would be “ten toe amputation”.

Because cats must use their feet to get around, and therefore can’t rest the surgical sites, cats frequently experience pain for up to a month after surgery.

Declawing Alternatives

The most common reason for declawing cats is the damage that they do with their nails, usually to furniture, sometimes to people. Before declawing your cat, recognize that there are other ways to blunt these sharp claws or stop your cat from scratching particular objects.

1. Trim those nails - Trimming nails is an easy way to take the razor edge off your cat’s nails. If you look at your cat’s nails, a color change will show the quick, which is the blood supply to nail. Just trim the sharp point in front of the quick. Your vet’s office will be happy to give a demonstration, or you can bring your cat in for nail trims.

2. Scratch those posts and pads - Scratching is a natural activity for your cat. This is how cats clean their nails, relieve stress, and stretch their legs and feet. Multiple cardboard scratchers and sisal rope objects should be available around your house. These will encourage your cat to scratch something other than your couch.

3. Sticky Paws - These adhesive strips can be applied to your furniture where your cat likes to scratch. They will show your cat that scratching furniture is no fun, and it would be way more fun to use a scratching post or pad.

4. Soft Paws - These vinyl caps can be applied to your cat’s claws to soften them. If you have trouble, then make an appointment with your vet to have them applied professionally.

5. Play, but don’t play rough - Never play rough with your cat using your bare hands. While this may be cute with a kitten, cats will learn that hands and people are OK objects to scratch and bite. Playing is a great way for your cat to let off some steam, but always use a toy.

6. Hideouts - Cats need a place to get away from it all, particularly in a busy home. Providing relaxing areas for your cat will decrease stress and aggression, which will prevent unwanted scratching. Cat trees are an excellent choice.

7. Don’t get a cat, or find new home for your cat - Some people may find this last option a bit extreme, but is it any more extreme than cutting off an animal’s toes for the sake of convenience?

Declawing Should Be The Last Option

While declawing remains a legal option for most cat owners in the United States, it should only be chosen after considering all alternatives first.

Scratching is a natural behavior for cats, and so it should be expected when bringing a cat into your home. If the thought of scratched furniture is more than you can bear, then a cat might not be the right pet for you.

If you move forward with declawing, be sure to make a soft and confined area for your cat to recover. Pain medications are absolutely necessary and should be given as directed by your veterinarian.

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