Why Declawing Your Cat Is a Bad Idea

December 15, 2015

This cat is not declawed


One of the most important decisions you have to make as a cat owner is whether or not to declaw your pet.  Most people do so to protect their furniture, but cats can be trained not to scratch your belongings. Others declaw their cats because they live in apartments and don’t want to risk Fluffy damaging carpeting or doors with her claws. Whatever the reason, I’m not going to tell you not to do it, but I am going to explain the process and alternatives to you.

The usual process of declawing a cat is inhumane at best.  It is outlawed in many European countries but is legal in the U.S. Many veterinarians refuse to do the surgery. The cat claw is not really like a human toenail.  It is so close to the bone that the last bone of the toe has to be removed along with the nail. This is not a surgery to be taken lightly. Some cats suffer lifelong problems and pain from declawing. The older the cat, the bigger the problems, as a rule.

Should your cat spend any time outdoors, it needs those claws to defend itself in the event of an attack by dogs or even other cats. Without claws, it cannot scratch and may not be able to climb trees.

Before you make the decision to declaw Fluffy, try training your cat. Buy a deterrent product that you can spray on furniture and any place the cat is likely to scratch. Cats generally avoid citrus odors, like lemon or orange. Buy Fluffy a sturdy scratching post to use.  If she heads toward a place you don’t want her to scratch, immediately pick her up and place her in front of the scratching post and holding her front legs, making a scratching motion against the post.  A few times of this, coupled with the spray to deter her, may be all you need to convince your kitty where to sharpen her claws.  If a good scratching post is not in your budget, you can buy cardboard scratching boxes that work quite well.  Sprinkle some catnip on the boxes to encourage Fluffy to use it.  You can spray the posts with a liquid catnip to accomplish the same purpose.

Clip your cat’s toenails every week.  You’ll only need to clip the tips off to keep her comfortable. Cats scratch in order to smooth their sharp nails. I use small human toenail clippers and they work just fine.

A product called Soft Paws is available to glue onto the cat’s nails.  I’ve never used this one but I’m told they work quite well. The problem with these nails is that they have to be replaced when they fall off.

Declawing a cat is a serious solution to a problem that can most likely be handled in other ways. Research this surgery before committing to it. Fluffy will thank you.


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