While there are so many things to love about our furry friends, fervent cat scratching can drive us up a wall. When a cat has whittled down its scratching post to a nub and has moved on to the living room furniture, many cat owners consider declawing. The desire to declaw your cat is understandable, but there are a number of factors to consider before moving forward.
How Does Declawing Work?
Many people think the declawing of cats is just that—a simple removal of their claws. In actuality, the procedure (called an onychectomy) is more invasive. The last bone, connecting the tendons and ligaments on a cat’s paw is also removed. Side effects of declawing can include infection and nerve damage, and after the procedure it has been reported that some cats have difficulty relearning to walk, can exhibit more unwanted (or disruptive) behaviors and in rare cases, claws end up growing back, often with difficulty.
Because of the invasive nature of declawing, it has been banned and only permitted under extreme circumstances in many countries in Europe and South America, as well as Australia and New Zealand. Declawing is legal in North America, however some cities have passed ordinances outlawing the procedure.
"TEACH YOUR CAT THAT VERTICAL SCRATCHING IS A NO-NO BY STANDING GUARD WITH A SQUIRT BOTTLE OF WATER, AND GIVING HER A LIGHT SPRAY EACH TIME THE CLAWS COME OUT.”
Are there Alternatives?
Scratching is a normal feline behavior cats use to mark their territory both visually and with scent, for claw conditioning ("husk" removal) and as a stretching activity. So what are cat owners supposed to do? Here are non-surgical ways to keep scratching from becoming too disruptive:
- Cat Scratching posts: Provide suitable implements for normal scratching behavior like scratching posts, cardboard boxes, and carpet or fabric remnants affixed to stationary objects. They should be tall or long enough to allow full stretching, and be firmly anchored to provide necessary resistance to scratching. Cats should be positively reinforced when they use them, to promote continued use.
- Good claw maintenance: Trim claws every 1 to 2 weeks to prevent injury or damage to household items.
- Nail caps: Temporary synthetic nail caps are available as an alternative to onychectomy to prevent human injury or damage to property. Plastic nail caps are usually applied every 4 to 6 weeks.
- Deterrents: Deterrents, such as foil or double-sided tape, can be used to cover sought-after places for your kitty’s claws.
- Training: Teach your cat that vertical scratching is a no-no by standing guard with a squirt bottle of water, and giving her a light spray each time the claws come out.
- Entertainment: Divert attention from fabrics by giving your cat toys to play with. This extra exercise can also replace the desire to scratch.
- Try Comfort Zone products: Comfort Zone Spray & Scratch Control Spray and the Comfort Zone Calming Diffuser emit soothing pheromones to help reduce stress-related behaviors like vertical scratching.