At one time or another, every cat owner has probably looked at their shredded couch corners or drapes and wished that their beloved pet didn’t have such sharp claws. In fact, some owners don’t just wish, but take the step of surgically declawing their cats.
I’d like to address this practice (which I strongly oppose), its pros and cons, and give you my take on it.
WHAT IS DECLAWING?
To declaw a cat, you have to go to your veterinarian. It’s a surgical procedure that requires general anesthesia and some recovery time. Declawing is not simple, nor easy – it’s about amputating the last joints in a cat’s toes.
This is serious surgery with permanent consequences. Imagine if you had the last joint of all your fingers cut off. Think of how your world would be and how you behave in it. It would change you forever. I don’t think it’s a stretch to make this comparison.
After declawing, also called Onychectomy, the cat must stay in the hospital for a time. As with many procedures, the ideal time to declaw is when the cat is 3 to 5 months of age, and it’s not recommended at all for older cats.
With bandaged paws, the cat is sent home for a recovery that can be painful and psychologically traumatic. Cats need their paws to do everyday tasks, such as walking and using the litter box. As I mentioned, think of if you lost all your finger tips. Things we rarely give much thought to, like picking up a pencil or turning the pages of a book, become a big deal.
While the cat is recovering, exercise must be restricted, especially jumping. The cat should not be active for about a week. If the cat breaks open a scab and the bleeding doesn’t stop in about 20 minutes, he/she will need a vet.
Regular litter must be replaced by shredded paper for a week or so. The smaller bits of clay litter or sand can get stuck in the cat’s paws where the wounds are and cause infection.
In addition, swollen paws, reluctance to walk after about 24 hours, and other signs of unusual physical or behavioral changes will require a vet visit.
- Of course, the big pro in declawing a cat is for the owner — no more scratching people or furniture.
- First there is the surgery. It will cost you money and cause pain for your cat. And as with any surgery involving general anesthesia, there are risks to consider.
- Recovery will be uncomfortable and maybe even traumatic for the cat. Some cats might even have difficulty adjusting
to declawing and may exhibit a personality change or behavioral problems.
- Cats need their claws for self-defense. If your declawed indoor cat happens to get out by accident, he/she will be pretty defenseless.
- And, if you have a dog in the family as well, the cat will need their claws to be able to fend off an overeager or aggressive canine.
Personally, I don’t believe in declawing cats. As an owner of 2 cats, I know it can sometimes be annoying to have my pets scratch me or my sofa, but I chose to take in cats and it’s something I just learn to deal with.
It’s in a cat’s nature to scratch, mainly to mark his/her territory. And, I do have a dog who sometimes may play a little too rough with the kitties, and they need a way to tell him that enough is enough.
Better than declawing your cat, you just need to keep your cats nails trimmed, provide a tall scratching post, or you may consider using plastic claw coverings.
Remember to use appropriate clippers and trim only the very end of the nail. You don’t want to cut too much and hit that pink portion of the nail or you will cause pain and bleeding.
Get a scratching post that is tall enough so that your cat can stand on his/her hind legs and stretches his/her front legs up high. Also make sure that it is solid and stable. I noticed that my cats won’t use those smaller scratching posts that easily tip over. Also, they seem to like the sisal rope posts, and do not even look at the carpet covered posts. Each cat is different, so find out what yours likes.
Entice your cat to use it by rubbing some catnip onto it and giving him/her treats as a reward when they scratch it.
Plastic claw covers
These little covers are just glued on and you replace them as they wear out or fall off. They are usually used only on the front claws and can last a few months.
If you Google “cat claw covers,” you’ll get some hits such as Soft Paws or Soft Claws nail covers.
My cats stay indoors, but on the off-chance that they get out of the house, I like knowing that they can at least defend themselves.