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Declawing Your Cat – The Realities and Alternatives

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August 29, 2012

Many people get a kitten and while having it spayed/neutered, decide to declaw to avoid problems such things as shredding furniture and curtains. The kitten undergoes a surgery, and problem solved.  Or is it?  Let’s take a peek into the truth behind declawing.

Realities of Declawing

Declawing your cat is a major surgery and is extremely painful. Declawing isn’t just removing the nail – it is an amputation of the tips of the cat’s foot. The procedure is like having each of your fingers amputated at the first knuckle – so in effect, your cat endures 10 amputations (assuming you only do the front feet) and has been mutilated for life.

Your cat not only suffers immediately after the surgery. He has to walk, stretch, and use the litter box while healing, which takes time and every movement is very painful. Other problems include:

  • An altered gait. Cats are “digitigrade”, which means they walk on their toes.  After the amputation, your pet’s gait is altered – possibly leading to joint pain and arthritis.
  • Litter box problems. Cats that had previously used their litter box faithfully may begin to associate the pain caused while digging in litter to the litter box itself. Your pet may stop using it completely, choosing the nice soft carpet which doesn’t hurt their feet.
  • Outside dangers. Declawing can be dangerous if your cat gets outside as he no longer has the primary defense weapon of all cats.  He can become easy prey to larger cats, dogs or other predators, and he’s basically defenseless.

Alternatives to Declawing

If you decide that declawing is not an option for your beloved cat, what are your other options for protecting your belongings? There are other options that are humane.

  • Exercise is a large part of the solution.  So how do you exercise a cat you ask?  Through play!  Those toys that dangle off a wooden or plastic handle are an easy way to  provide entertainment and exercise – and a tired cat is a lot less likely to get into trouble.  Take 15 to 20 minutes and play.  Your cat will enjoy it, and your bond will deepen.
  • Provide places for you cats to scratch.  Get different shaped scratching posts and place them in various rooms around your house.  There are vertical as well as horizontal scratching posts and using different shapes will encourage your cat to use them.
  • You can trim their nails too, much as dog’s nails are trimmed.
  • Last, but not least, there are nail tips out there made just for your cat.  Yes, nail tips. Called “Soft Paws” these are artificial vinyl caps that cover your cat’s natural nail, and come in clear or colors. When they come off, you replace them – and no more worries about scratching.

Thankfully, declawing isn’t the only option for protecting you, your children and belongings from the claws of your cat.  With far more humane solutions, you can solve the problem and have a healthier, and happier cat.

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