Tue. Jun 6th, 2023
Cat Declawing: Risks And Alternatives

Cat declawing, you may think this is a must for your feline friend. Unfortunately, having a cat comes with a lot of scratching. It’s a typical cat activity, and occasionally cats don’t know what they can or cannot scratch. It can be hard to handle when they use their claws on you, your sofa, or your curtains.

Maybe you’ve heard about declawing and believed it could be the answer. Continue reading to learn more about what declawing entails, why it is not advised, and better alternatives to take into account.

Cat Declawing Overview

  • Declawing is the unpleasant practice of partially amputating a cat’s toes; it is not advised.
  • In order to address a cat’s destructive scratching activity, there are better and more compassionate alternatives to declawing.
  • Providing suitable scratching surfaces, changing behavior, and trimming nails on a regular basis are alternatives.

What Is Cat Declawing?

cat scratching wood
Declawing is a painful and crippling procedure for cats because it is essentially a partial toe amputation.

Declawing, often referred to as onychectomy in veterinary terminology, entails the removal of the third toe bone while the patient is sedated. Three bones make form the toe, the third of which is connected to the claw.

Many people believe that declawing merely includes removing the claws and are unaware that it involves a significant medical procedure. In essence, the toes have been partially amputated. This will be done by a veterinarian utilizing a scalpel blade, surgical laser, or sterile nail clippers of the guillotine variety.

Why Is Cat Declawing Performed?

cat scratching furniture
Most often, pet owners who want to prevent their cats from scratching furniture ask for declawing.

Pet owners ask for elective declawing to stop their cats from scratching people and things like furniture. Typically, the procedure is carried on on cats between the ages of three and twelve months. The majority of the time, only the toes on the front limbs are declawed because cats’ back claws typically don’t inflict much harm.

Why Is Cat Declawing Not Recommended?

kitten scratching
Declawing side effects might cause discomfort, limping, edema, infections, and claw regrowth.

Declawing is a difficult and unpleasant surgery. When done for human convenience, elective declawing is an unnecessary mutilation that provides no medical advantages for cats. Many nations, notably the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, forbid declawing. The technique is completely prohibited in two states and a few cities and counties in the United States (New York and Maryland).

In 50% of cats, complications develop. Pain, limpness, swelling, infection, and claw regrowth are some of these side effects. Research has revealed that declawing increases the chance of developing back pain, arthritis, and undesirable behaviors like aggressiveness, biting, and incontinence.

What Are Better Alternatives To Cat Declawing?

Scratching is a typical activity for cats. Cats can use it to define their territory by emitting both visual and olfactory cues. Through the loss of the dead outer sheath, scratching also helps to maintain the health of their nails. Declawing limits their ability to engage in an innate habit. Continue reading to learn more about some potential painless options.

Provide Suitable Scratching Surfaces

cat scratcher
By providing your cat with a wide range of various scratchers, you can minimize or even eliminate damage to your belongings.

You must give your cat different scratching surfaces to meet their scratching needs if you don’t want your furniture, drapes, and carpets to become ruined by their claws. Scratching pads and posts come in a wide variety of designs. Variety is the key, after all.

Vertical scratching posts ought to be high enough for your cat to fully extend its hind legs when scratching. Make sure the foundation is solid and steady to prevent the post from tipping over or swaying while in use. To give your cat extra options, provide horizontal scratching posts or mats as well.

Scratchers made of different materials, such as sisal rope and corrugated cardboard, are available. Try out various materials to determine which ones your cat prefers.

Put a scratching post or pad adjacent to the area where your cat has been improperly scratching. Additionally, as cats enjoy to stretch and scratch when they wake up, it is a good idea to place an appropriate scratching surface next to where they often sleep.

Attract Your Cat To The Appropriate Scratching Surfaces

cat scratch post
To encourage your cat to use the new scratcher, sprinkle or spray catnip on and around it.

If your cat responds to catnip, it can be a terrific method to make a new scratching post or pad more appealing to them. On the top and base, sprinke some catnip or apply a catnip spray. This will motivate your cat to effectively utilize the suitable scratching grounds.

Playing with your cat next to the scratching post is another option. Wand toys work well for this since you can encourage them to use their paws to reach up onto the post while grabbing the toy.

Use Positive Reinforcement

cat eating treats
When you detect your cat scratching in the proper location, reward it with treats and praise.

Your cat will naturally scratch things, so it needs to understand what it can and cannot do. Even though owning a cat that scratches furniture can be annoying, it’s crucial to avoid using punishment as a solution. Avoid squirting them with water and making loud noises to scare them away because doing so could scare them and weaken your relationship with them.

Instead, when the right behaviors are demonstrated, positive reinforcement should be applied. Give your cat lots of love and treats as a reward if you notice them using the scratching posts you’ve set up for them.

Make Surfaces Less Appealing To Scratch

cat scratch deterrent
The scratching activity can be stopped with deterrent tape long enough for you to reroute it in the right direction.

Make sure your cat has access to adequate scratching options before trying this option. Cover undesirable places with aluminum foil, cling film, or double-sided tape to make them less alluring to your cat. Throws and blankets, as well as plastic sheets, can be used to cover chairs and sofas.

Provide A Vitalizing Environment

cat stimulating environment
The more work a cat has to perform, the less likely it is that it will engage in bad behavior.

Stress and/or boredom are frequent triggers for destructive behavior. Make sure your cat has a lot of stimulating environmental enrichment, both physically and psychologically. If you have numerous cats, make sure you have enough food and water dishes, as well as litter boxes, to prevent resource rivalry.

Regular Nail Clipping

cat nail clipping
Your cat’s nails should be kept short to prevent injury.

Your cat’s nails should be kept short and without any sharp edges to help prevent injury and damage. It varies from cat to cat, but generally speaking, this can be done every two weeks or so. The process is far less traumatic for everyone if cats are accustomed to having their nails cut from a young age.

If you are unsure or uncomfortable about trimming your cat’s nails, ask a groomer or the veterinarian clinic for assistance.

Use Cat Nail Caps

cat nail clips
Your cat can scratch without harm thanks to vinyl nail caps.

Nail caps, like Soft Paws, are soft vinyl covers that you may use glue to stick over your cat’s nails. When the outer nail sheath sheds, they come out after about four to six weeks. Cats may still scratch and extend and retract their nails thanks to these vinyl nail covers, which are a better alternative to declawing.

Seek Help From A Cat Behaviorist

cat declawing vet
When all else fails, a specialist who is knowledgeable with feline behavior can frequently be helpful.

Maybe you have tried some of the suggestions above, but your cat is still clawing up your furniture. Consider getting in touch with a feline behaviorist if that is the case. They will assess your cat along with their lifestyle and home surroundings before developing a management strategy to assist you in changing your cat’s undesirable behaviors.


happy cat man
There are numerous compassionate and efficient alternatives available to pet owners to stop destructive scratching.

By this time, hopefully, you’ve realized that declawing is not the best way to stop your cat from scratching. As was said before, there are a variety of humane and painless solutions that can be taken into account.

It can take a lot of effort and patience to change any unwelcome behaviour. If avoiding invasive surgery can prevent harmful scratching, this effort is warranted. Should you require assistance or guidance, your veterinarian can also be a good resource.

Cat Declawing FAQ

Is there a painless way for cat declawing?

Declawing a cat entails the removal of the third toe bone and the last toe joint under general anesthesia. A veterinarian might carry out this procedure with a surgical laser, scalpel blade, or guillotine-style nail clippers.

Any surgical procedure is intrusive and uncomfortable, regardless of the technique utilized. Additionally, recovery might be slow and post-operative problems are frequent. Declawing may also cause chronic pain.

Why shouldn’t you get your cat declawed?

It may not be ethical to operate on cats under general anesthesia and perform invasive procedures on them for human benefit. It interferes with your cat’s normal behavior, which is already detrimental to its wellness. Chronic discomfort and unfavorable behavioral changes are among the long-term side effects of the operation, which also has a high rate of complications.

Tendonectomy or declawing?

Declawing surgical alternative: tendonectomy. The tendon that enables claw extension and retraction is severed and a little piece of it is removed. Nail cutting is a constant necessity as the nails thicken and continue to grow.

There are complications associated with this treatment, much like with declawing. It is not typically advised. It is best to think about the aforementioned substitutes rather than undergoing surgery that won’t help the cat.

Read more: Cat Hunt – Should Your Cat Hunt For Food?

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