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The Details on Declawing

Everyone loves a cute kitten, probably just as much as they love a cozy clean couch at the end of the day. Unfortunately the two don’t always mix well and kitten claws can end up getting a little too cozy with the couch corner.  We get a lot of questions about declawing, especially regarding kittens. Declawing is a very painful procedure with a lot of controversy surrounding it. This blog is designed to inform owners about the process of declawing and available alternatives.

 It is important to understand that scratching is a NATURAL BEHAVIOR for cats with many functions other than damaging our furniture and curtains.  Scratching is a grooming process for the nails and also allows your cat to stretch muscles. It is not a behavior that should be discourage but redirected. 

Most owners are not aware what the procedure of declawing a cat actually entails. Cat claws actually grow from the bone at the end of the toe. In order to remove the claw, the bone must also be removed. This is the equivalent to cutting off a human’s finger at the last joint of each digit. As cats walk on these digits after the bone has been removed, you can imagine it leads to a painful recovery process and, if not done properly, can lead to severe arthritis at an older age.

Please remember this blog is not meant to shame anyone who has already had this procedure done to their pet. Sometimes declawing is unavoidable if the cat is causing persistent damage to the house or owners.  Most veterinarians who are opposed to this procedure will still perform it if the alternative is that the animal will lose their forever home.

We at Westside like to offer alternative options and consider declawing as a last ditch effort. Below are some options we ask owners to consider when they are having issues with scratching in the house.

  • Behavioral Training:
    • Again, scratching is a natural behavior for cats. We have as much of a chance to get cats to stop scratching as we do getting a dog to stop wagging its tail. Provide them with an appropriate scratching tool to replace your couch and curtains. There are so many options out there that one of them is likely to meet your cats’ criteria. The earlier you start with this training the better.
  • Soft Paws:
    • Now these are my favorite among alternative options. Soft paws are gentle non-toxic caps that can be applied to your cats nails every 4-6 weeks. They are non-painful and completely safe. Not to mention they come in many different colors and sizes. Below you will find a link to the Soft Paws website.
  • Claw Trimming:
    • Trimming a cats claws is actually much easier than you would think! Cats can have their nails trimmed every 1-2 weeks. We recommend having a veterinarian or groomer demonstrate the first time. You’ll find with proper training you’ll find it is a very quick and efficient alternative.

  • Pheromone Therapy:
    • This is a good option if you have an older cat that recently started having scratching issues. Sometimes cats will begin being destructive is they are stressed or feel insecure in their environment. Some synthetic pheromone sprays or diffusers can help with this.
  • Environmental enrichment:
    • Cats can get bored and develop bad habits just like humans. Providing them some entertainment such as toys or cat tree’s would help to prevent destructive behaviors. Placing scratching posts or cat tree’s near windows would encourage your cat to use them.

Below are several useful links to pages that discuss declawing and alternatives in greater detail. Please feel free to look at them and let us know if you have any questions.

  1. https://www.catvets.com/public/PDFs/ClientBrochures/AlternativesDeclawing-PrintView.pdf
  2. https://www.avma.org/PracticeManagement/ClientMaterials/Documents/Cat_Declawing_Flyer.pdf
  3. https://www.softpaws.com/

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