Take a second to imagine what your life would be like without your fingertips. If a doctor put you under and you woke up without the entire first knuckle of all your fingers and toes, and lost all your fingernails. That would hurt, right?
Sadly, That's what declawing is to cats.
Most pet owners think that declawing is okay, because vets do the procedure. They think its just removing the nail from being external, and they'll be fine after they recover, but this is far from the truth.
When you declaw your cat, not only are you removing the only mechanism your pet has to defend themselves if they ever accidentally get outdoors, but you're causing them serious, permanent bodily harm, as well as possible temperament issues. Many cats refuse to use litter boxes after being declawed because the litter hurts their feet. Imagine walking around with pebbles in your shoes for the rest of your life... that's what it feels like to be a declawed cat. Cats that have been declawed often become aggressive because their paws are in constant pain, and sometimes the surgery isn't a clean cut, so they are in even more pain due to the deformity in their feet.
So now, think about the reason you want to declaw your cat. Because you don't want them to scratch your couch? Or, because you're worried they will scratch your child? Do you think its fair to your animal to cut their paws off at their first knuckles for that reason? You're right, it isn't. I can't think of a single reason you would want your fingers cut off, and I can't name a single reason why it's okay to have your pets fingers cut off.
Scratching is a natural behavior for cats. Even cats who are declawed will act like they're scratching. It's a way for your pet to not only scent their territory, but also a way for them to stretch their muscles. There are plenty of other alternatives to declawing, and with the right time and dedication to helping your pet adapt to the alternatives, they will work--we promise!
If you would like to further your research on declawing, we encourage you to take a look at some of the studies listed below, or by looking into other veterinarian studies on declawed cats.
The American Animal Hospital Association's Stance on declawing.
The American Veterinary Medical Association's Study on declawing.
Photo Credit: www.CityTheKitty.org
If you're worried about your pet scratching your furniture or carpeting then scratching posts are the perfect solution for you! You will want to get both a vertical and horizontal scratching post and place them exactly where your pet usually goes to sharpen their claws (Click on the links to find recommended posts!). By placing these where your pet usually scratches, they should begin to use them on their own, but if they don't you will need to redirect them.
Scratching is a natrual behavoir for cats, so they need to know where they can scratch, you won't be able to stop it from happening all together. Instead, you need to teach your cat where they can use it. Now, cats don't learn like dogs do. If you yell "no" or swat them away they will just become fearful of you, they won't stop scratching in that spot. You need to redirect them to where they can scratch, and teach them where they can and cannot scartch.
Here's how to do that! If you see your kitty put their paws up on the chair, tell them "no," and put them in front of the scratching post. Praise using the scratching posts with pet treats and play time, and continue telling your pet "no" and redirecting them to the scratching post when they scratch on anything else. We have found that with repetition, any cat, young or old, can learn to use a scratching post (they prefer them anyway!)
PRO TIP: Most cats love the cardboard one we linked above!
If you're worried about your pet scratching you, your child, your other pets, grandma, or anything else--Soft Paws are your answer! These are little nail caps, that come in an array of different colors. You slip over your cat's claws and stay in place with adhesive (kind of like fake nails for humans!). If for some reason your pet does chew on them, they are non-toxic! Once they fall off, they will be vacuumed up (motivation to vacuum your house more, you're welcome!) and you can easily reapply a replacement! To apply, you dab some glue in a cover, softly push on your cat's paw so the nail is exposed, slip over the nail--and that's it! You can buy the name brand of Soft Paws off their website, or even at PetSmart in the cat section! Or, you can buy a cheaper version here on AmazonSmile!
Feliway is a company that is better known for their pharmone spray that helps cats who are stressed, but they have an awesome product that helps with scratching too! Using their classic feliway spray, you spray your furniture (it does not harm it, or have a scent you can ditect as a human) to keep your pet off, and you use the feliscratch on your scratching post to help attract them to be there! Feliway's website is full of clincal studies, articles and even videos on how the feliscratch works, I recommend you check it out yourself!
In some cases, we may need more help in either managing our declawed cats pain and behaviors, or in managing the alternatives to declawing, so our cats can keep their claws. If you need more assistance and have already spoken to your vet, then we recommend you reach out to a licensed animal behaviorist. If you are local to the mid-west, we recommend Tabitha at Chirrups and Chatter. Tabitha doesn't work with our rescue directly, but we've learned much from her over the years! She is not only a pet behaviorist but also a vet tech who is extensively trained in fear-free vetting! While we love helping our adopters with their pet problems, Tabitha will be able to help you get to the route of your problem to be able to solve it for good!
Declawing isn't worth it, for you or your pet. These alternatives are easier than they seem, and if you really try, your pet will adapt (plus, you'll both be happier this way!)
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