Your cat sitters in Chandler want you to picture this: You just brought home a new kitten, and turn the corner to enter your living room to find her scratching up your $500 couch. Yikes! Your mind instantly goes to trying to prevent this behavior in the future and protecting all your valuable belongings. But is declawing the way to go? Your Chandler pet sitter wants you to be aware of several things before you decide to pursue this surgery.
–First, cats are digitigrades. This simply means that they walk on their toes. Their entire body structure is designed for this type of gait. Altering this via surgery is similar to if a person was wearing shoes that didn’t fit right, permanently. It would give you back pain, sore muscles, arthritis, and possibly other longterm damage.
–Second, declawing is NOT a simple nail trim. It is 10 separation amputations comparable to removing the tips of a person’s fingers at the first knuckle. The vet must remove ligament, tendon, bone, and nerves. This is a MAJOR surgery which carries the risk of infection also, especially if any typical litter is used after the fact which then gets embedded into the paws. You must use certain safe litters after a declawing surgery.
-Cats need their claws for balance, stretching, territorial marking, and protection. Even after declawing you will see a cat attempt to stretch and scratch, and sadly they are unable to do so. Phantom limb pain is also a possibility. A cat outside without her claws is a target who cannot defend herself. Your Chandler cat sitters have seen and heard of cats that were continually bullied and beat up by other cats outdoors and needed multiple vet trips to fight infection from the wounds.
–Some veterinarians refuse to do this procedure given all the research surrounding the harm it does to the cat. In fact, in parts of Europe it is illegal! Other vets will not do the procedure on an adult cat as they cannot recover and adjust as easily as a kitten.
-It is now widely known that declawing can contribute to a myriad of behavioral problems including litterbox avoidance, biting, aggression, and increased vocalization among other things. Personally, I have experienced virtually all of those issues. One of my kitties that was declawed prior to when I adopted her urinates on my bed regularly. Another cat bites hard when he wants attention. One of my foster cats pulls out all her fur but does not groom herself. It is difficult to argue that declawing was a bad idea for all of these felines when I see their behavioral issues.
So what are your options?
-Regular nail trims by the pet parent or a vet can minimize damage to furniture. Start these when kitty is young so she becomes accustomed to having her paws handled and allows it more readily as an adult.
-Try claw caps or “Soft Paws.” These nail covers prevent your furry friend from doing any scratching and protect your belongings. These also take some adjustment, so try them early on when kitty is young.
-Invest in many scratching posts with different surfaces. Some cats like corrugated cardboard scratchers which lay on the floor. Some like sisal rope posts. Some like carpet posts. If kitty is uninterested in one surface, try something different. Also, try sprinkling catnip over the scratchers to attract her to the post. Your pet sitters in Chandler recommend you place scratching posts directly in front of the piece of furniture you want to protect or that kitty regularly uses. This should help redirect her to use the approved scratching surface.
-Try “No Scratch” sprays such as the one by NaturVet which contains herbs that discourage scratching when sprayed on a surface which you don’t want her claws on. Conversely, try a Feliway plug-in or calming spray which will promote a comforting environment and make kitty less likely to feel the need to mark territory by scratching.
-Try doublesided tape or aluminum foil on the surface where kitty is scratching as cats do not like the feel of these and may avoid them. A few products are also on the market which are like sticky sheets of thick plastic that you can place on corners of couches to discourage scratching.
A Final Word
Prior to doing my research about declawing, I intentionally had a cat declawed unfortunately. After the surgery, I went to visit him at the vet clinic as he was staying the night. What I saw made me never want to declaw another cat. He was clearly distraught and shaking his paws which were bandaged up. I will never forget how upset he was and how it made me feel. Please do your research before deciding to declaw as chances are you will change your mind and try some alternatives to this risky procedure. Your feline friend will thank you for it!