The Declawing Debate

by on March 14th, 2011 at 7:00 am

Whether or not to declaw is a tough question cat owners must face. Approximately 31% of cat owners in the United States have their cats declawed, and may reside under the philosophy that declawing is necessary to prevent their cat from destroying the household’s furniture, while others see the practice as barbaric and cruel.

Better behavior?

Studies offer mixed results on behavioral improvements after declawing, and one conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association actually noted negative behavioral changes following the procedure, including disobedience issues such as litter box problems and biting.

Procedure basics

For those considering the procedure, it’s important to become informed and consult with your vet to decide if this is the best option for your cat. The procedure requires the amputation of the entire last joint of the toe, and is said to be the equivalent of removing the tip of a human finger at the first joint below the fingernail.

The wounds on each toe are filled will surgical glue and bandaged. In the days following surgery, the cat will have difficulty walking, and like any surgery, he or she is at risk for complications like infection. Some cats are said to even experience nail regrowth. Proper care is required to help facilitate healing.

Alternatives to declawing

For cat owners who choose not to declaw, there are some options available to help keep your cat’s claws manageable and house-friendly.

  • Give your cat a scratching post. Select a post with a vertical drag, as cats tend to prefer scratching this type of upholstery. Another popular option is a post wrapped with natural fiber rope. Help attract your cat to the post by using catnip or treats.
  • Trimming your cat’s nails is very important in maintaining a scratch-friendly environment.
  • If you catch your cat in action, verbally reprimand him or her, accompanied by a loud clapping noise. Never hit, strike, or throw anything at your cat!
  • Deter pets from scratching your furniture by spraying your couch and other target objects with natural repellents designed for discouraging pets. Electric blankets and accompanying collar designed to keep pets off furniture may also work as a short-term option to train your cat to stay away.
  • Stubborn cat? Try double stick tape on furniture to create an undesirable scratching area.

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