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Pet Bucket Blog

The Lowdown on Declawing Your Cat

 by petbucket on 05 Mar 2016 |
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Declawing cats is a hot-button issue among veterinarians and pet owners alike. Onychectomy, as the procedure is formally known, is regarded as a serious surgery and involves not just amputating a cat’s claws, but also the small bone that comes before his first knuckles. This isn’t just a painful process for your pet, but removes your cat’s first line of defence, can alter his sense of balance, and may even leave him with long term complications like lameness, behavioural problems, and chronic pain. The Humane Society and ASPCA suggest declawing only as a last resort after all other avenues to curb scratching have been explored. Some countries go even further, banning declawing outright as a form of animal cruelty.

With cats’ claws the issue of such hot debate, the question remains: Why does kitty scratch your prized possessions in the first place? Clawing is a cat’s way of marking his territory. Both through the visual markings and scent left behind from glands on his paws, your cat stakes out his space in the house with his claws. Clawing can also serve as a form of exercise, stretching and working your cat’s front legs and spine, keeping him in prime condition for hunting. Finally, scratching is a natural action that loosens and removes the outer shell of the claw, revealing a sharp, healthy surface underneath.
Scratching is in your cat’s nature, but there are several alternatives to declawing if your cat is ruining your furniture or trim. You can trim the tips of kitty’s claws once or twice a month to make them less destructive— remember, though, only exclusively indoor cats should have their nails trimmed, as outdoor wanderers may need their claws to defend themselves and for climbing. Even with shorter nails, your cat can continue to claw, so it’s important to provide him with an acceptable alternative. Look for objects with similar textures to the surface your cat is currently clawing and place them at a comparable height. A range of commercially available scratching posts exists, or you can fashion a DIY scratch pad by attaching a square of loop-weave carpet to the wall. Remember, cats won’t use posts that don’t provide enough resistance and new scratching posts should be introduced in areas of the house that your cat frequents to encourage use. Try to provide one scratching post for each cat in the household. Others methods to deter clawing include cat adversives, such as aluminium foil or double-sided tape, placed over scratch-prone areas; trying Soft Paws, small latex caps that you or your veterinarian can glue onto the tips of your cat’s claws; or using Feliway, a product that mimics cat pheromones to help deter your cat from scratching to mark his territory.
Clearly, there are many avenues to explore before taking the plunge into declawing your cat.  As with any surgery, declawing comes with inherent risks such as pain, infection, and nerve trauma and should only be considered as a last resort.


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