Cat declawing is one of the most controversial, sensitive, and emotional topics for cat owners. It has been considered a “quick fix” for scratching and destroying your furniture for a long time. But be aware that it is a surgical procedure, viewed by many veterinarians as a last resort because it can be very uncomfortable. Nowadays the perspective has shifted and owners have gained more knowledge about cat behavior, pain, and ethics.
All of this can make the owner even more confused. If you are one of them, don’t worry. Here, we will provide all the info and a simple overview.
What Is Declawing?
Declawing isn’t a simple procedure at all. It is quite intensive, major surgery that should be done only when necessary. If you think it means that nails are removed in a way they can grow back – you are wrong. The surgery removes the last joint from your cat’s toe.
The technical term for it is onychectomy. When doing your research you will find a lot of conflicting information. Some countries and states are banning the procedure and many veterinary associations and humane groups are opposing this routine.
Make sure you explore the options that are not so invasive, before deciding to take a declaw route. Always consult with experts. If you are sure you want it, please do the procedure at your cats’ optimal age, and that way you will reduce trauma. Older cats are harder to adjust and it will be more painful for them, so try declawing before they become an adult.
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Cats that have been declawed may experience difficulties using cat litter. The litter must be softer, so they will still be able to dig despite being declawed. There is a variety of litter for declawed cats you can choose from. Veterinarians recommend the ones that are made of biodegradable paper because it’s less likely to stick. You can also choose the one made from reclaimed fallen timber, as it is dust-free, or a wood litter one, which is eco-friendly.
Why Are Cats Declawed?
The most common reason, according to pet owners, is protecting the furniture and other belongings from scratching. Your stuff may get pretty destroyed and it can be very stressful. In this case, the procedure isn’t medically necessary, but your choice as an owner.
The other valid reasons are:
- Protecting other members of your family from destructive scratching (children, dogs, even other cats)
- Preventing disease spread (for people with impaired immune systems and chronicle illnesses, such as HIV)
- If your cat’s behavior in the household or in social situations is unacceptable, it may be a better option then giving it up for adoption
There are cases in which onychectomy is medically appropriate or vital to the health of your pet. Here are some examples:
- A tumor
- Chronic infection
- Irreparable damage to the claw
Alternatives to Declawing Cats
There are a few alternatives to onychectomy, but the cat’s age and temperament are the biggest factors in how effective they will be. Some alternatives are:
- Frequent nail trimming
This is widely used but may not be very effective because the cat will continue sharpening the claws. It’s important to trim the nails very short.
- Soft Claws
These are nail caps for claws made of vinyl. The cat should get used to it in a few days. Make sure you are very precise and patient and this can be a very reasonable alternative.
- Behavioral training
This one is much more effective for young cats. It should train your cat to scratch toys or certain scratching posts only.
- Scratching post/toys
Try investing in them and give your cat options for recreation and scratching. That way, it’s less likely they will destroy your furniture.
- Synthetic facial pheromone spray
Apply it on objects and areas of your home you particularly don’t want to get scratched. Hopefully, your cat will show no desire to scratch them.
- Appropriate environmental enrichment
When cats are indoor pets, it’s natural for them to experience stress. They are born to be explorers and hunters. But if you try to provide them the environment appropriate for their playful energy you will see how they will be in a better mood and less likely to scratch your household items. Invest in some toys, cat trees, and scratching surfaces.
Now that you know everything about declawing your cats, all the pros and cons, as well as the alternatives, you will be able to make this decision for yourself and your family. Your love for your cat is huge and you will do what’s best for them.