Many countries, including Australia, England, and Japan have banned or severely restricted veterinarians from performing the surgery.

It’s a natural instinct for cats to mark areas with scratches. It also helps to shed the outer sheath of the nail. They scratch when they are excited, when they stretch out after a catnap, and when they are finding the perfect position to sleep in.

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Cats scratch! End of story.

But declawing is an entirely different story, and it’s one of pain and cruelty. While declawing might seem like an effective way to stop a cat’s scratching behavior, it is far from simple and involves amputation. In fact, the last bone, along with the cat’s nail, in each toe are amputated. This is the equivalent to you having your first knuckle and nail removed from each of your fingers and toes. Not too pleasant, right?

The Cat’s YEOW!

Declawing is also known as onychectomy, which is the name of the “declaw” operation performed by a veterinarian. There are several ways to declaw a cat, among them are amputating the toes with a scalpel, or a guillotine clipper. Stitches or surgical glue are used to close the incisions and then the feet are wrapped.

A tendonectomy is another procedure that allows the cat to keep its claws, however, it typically leads to declawing and carries similar risks to declawing.

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Myths

Declawing Will Solve My Cat’s Problem

Declawing a cat will not solve any underlying issues. Cats that have been declawed are prone to inappropriate urination and aggression. Furthermore, a natural instinct is hardly a problem, despite its inconvenience. Plus, there are more humane ways to diminish scratching, which are detailed below.

Declawing is Minor Surgery

Declawing is painful to cats. It involves 10 separate amputations of the last bone and nail in each toe. Recovery is extremely painful, a cat still must use its feet for walking, pouncing, jumping, and climbing into the litter box to urinate and defecate. As veterinarian Dr. Christianne Schelling points out, “wheel chairs, and bedpans are not an option for a cat.”

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Dangers

Infection

There is a risk of infection, bleeding, and swelling post surgery. After the procedure, cats are required to be confined to prevent these complications and guardians are instructed to use shredded paper strips instead of kitty litter.

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Cat-astrophic Effects

Declawing has been linked to inappropriate urination, aggressive behavior, and biting. Remember, urine damage can be extensive and very expensive to correct, while scratching can be curbed and unwanted behavior can be modified. 

Every Rose Has Its Thorns

Exercise

Have playtime with your kitty! Use a laser pointer to entice your cat to get moving, use toys that he can paw at, and sprinkle catnip on a scratch pad. Cats need stimulation to help them from being destructive. 

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Build It (Or Buy It) And They Will Come

Are you in the mood for a weekend DIY project? Check out Amby.com for instructions on building a cat-tree. Alternatively, you can buy one.

Be sure to put the product in a place that is convenient for your kitty, this will make it a practical alternative for them.

Just Clap Yours Hands

Interrupt your kitty’s unwanted, scratching behavior by clapping your hands, or by lightly shaking a jar of pennies. Never yell at, or hit your cat (that’s abuse). Guide her to the appropriate scratching place and do your best to be consistent. 

Clip Clip

Trimming your cat’s nails regularly is also helpful. If possible, begin doing this when they are kittens to acclimate them to the process. 

Tools

In addition to cat trees and cat furniture, there are other products available to help deter scratching.

  • A scratching pad is an essential item for every cat. This allows them to scratch to their heart’s content on a parent-approved surface.
  • Nail caps that prevent scratching are also available. They are similar to a press on nails and are applied with adhesive.
  • Pheromone sprays can be used by spraying a scratched surface six times a day, for one month, or until the cat stops scratching in that place. It can also be used to soothe stressed cats.
  • The Thunder Shirt brand now makes a shirt for cats. These shirts are used to promote a general sense of calm.

Also, here is a list of Pro-Claw Vets in your area that may be able to assist you if you have a scratching problem with your cat.

Nobody’s Perfect

Animals are not accessories and it is unfair to expect them to conform (easily) to a human’s way of living. They, like people, lead individual lives and if we choose to become guardians then we must accept and respect their nature. There are always exceptions to the rule, but there are also always alternatives available to pursue instead of robbing an animal of its natural instincts through mutilation, so be sure to keep the above tips in mind and find out more information on cat declawing through The Paw Project.

Image Source: Creative Commons