Dear Tabby: Should I Declaw my Cat?
My cat scratches me all the time, sometimes even breaking the skin. She started to go after the furniture too – what should I do? Declaw her?
Cat Scratch Mama
Declawing is a serious procedure. It is known as Onychectomy, and is an operation to remove an animal’s claws surgically by means of the amputation of all or part of the distal phalanges, or end bones, of the animal’s toes. Wikipedia
This is a highly contested procedure as it can be likened to cutting off the tip of your finger and is seen as inhumane. It is banned in many countries, although it is still allowed in the states. The American Humane Society (AHS) also advises against it. Declawing can be done surgically with a tool similar to a guillotine that cuts the claw and the top of the bone that the claw is attached to. It may also be done with laser.
Declawing can have long term negative effects including:
- Pain and possible infection from the surgery.
- Removing part of the bone and claws may impact the gait of your cat that could lead to orthopedic issues.
- Your cat may be less likely to use the litterbox – it will be painful after the surgery and your cat may then associate that pain with the litterbox and refuse to use it.
- Claws are a natural protective measure and their removal may lead to your cat becoming more aggressive or biting more frequently.
- Your cat may become more accident prone as the claws act as natural aids in jumping, climbing, running, etc.
Cats use their claws not only for protection but for proper grooming. They scratch them to keep them trimmed and loosen dead outer layer of the nail. Scratching humans is not their normal outlet so you may want to reconsider declawing and look to other solutions to remedy the problem before taking that drastic of a step.
The best solution is to give your cat LOTS of scratch-able objects: scratching posts, trees, toys even corrugated boxes. You will need to spend some time training your cat what is acceptable to scratch and what isn’t, but if they have plenty of scratch friendly objects, it should be too hard. You should also trim your cat’s nails regularly so they don’t feel the need to “file” them.
You can also ask your vet about a new products in the market that are gel caps that can be placed on your cat’s claws. (Soft Paws®) or Sticky Paws®, a special tape you attach to your furniture to help prevent unwanted scratching.