A part of normal cat behavior is the instinctive need to scratch on surfaces to remove excess claw material and keep the nails clean and in good shape. Cats obviously enjoy this behavior and certainly are not aware that their behavior may be seen as destructive to their owners. Unfortunately, while your cat is happily clawing on your favorite chenille chair furniture, you may be very unhappy with one of your favorite family members.
It is our goal to help you to guide the behavior of your kitten or cat to use approved surfaces so that everyone can live together in harmony. We will work with you to explore all options for ensuring your cat's scratching is contained only to appropriate surfaces.
Alternatives To Declawing Cats
There are several alternatives to declawing cats, although their effectiveness may vary depending on the cat's age and temperament. Some of the more prevalent alternatives to declawing cats are:
- Behavioral Training: This is a much more effective alternative for kittens than adult cats and involves redirecting a misbehaving cat to a toy or scratching post.
- Soft Claws: These are vinyl nail caps for cat claws that are applied with surgical adhesive, which cats usually get used to within a few days. This requires a patient and a dedicated owner but it is a reasonable alternative to declawing.
- Frequent Nail Trimming: This is a less effective, but nonetheless widely used alternative to declawing cats. It involves trimming the nails very short. However, this method will not stop a cat from sharpening its existing claws and using them.
- Toys/Scratching Post: This might be a foregone conclusion in the eyes of some cat owners, but it is very important to have sufficient options for feline recreation and respite. Some cats are very particular, so make sure the equipment you invest in has your feline friend's seal of approval.
- Synthetic facial pheromone sprays/diffusers: Consider using synthetic facial pheromone sprays and/or diffusers to help relieve anxiety or stress, which may or may not be related to your cats scratching behavior. Apply a synthetic pheromone spray on the objects or areas in your home where your cat has exhibited undesired scratching.
- Appropriate environmental enrichment: Cats are natural hunters and explorers. When we make them indoor pets, they can experience stress if not provided with an enriched environment full of outlets for their inquisitive, playful energy. An enriched environment includes providing things like scratching surfaces, toys, cat trees and more.
Understanding The Procedure For Declawing Cats
Declawing kittens or adult cats requires the removal of the claw. Because the claw is permanently affixed to a cat's bone, this also means amputating all the third phalanx (bone) from a cat's paw. For a better understanding, imagine your fingers with only the first two bones and not the third bone which contains the nail. There are three medically approved ways to perform cat declawing:
- Blade Declawing: An instrument with a sliding blade cuts a straight line through the joint between the entire claw growth and the rest of the cat's paw. This is the most common method of declawing kittens or adult cats, and it is the most invasive.
- Laser Declawing: A laser is used to remove the third bone of the cat's paw. Laser declawing is usually more expensive than blade declawing, but laser declawing results in less bleeding during surgery, as well as less pain and shorter recovery time.
- Cosmetic Declawing: A tiny curved blade dissects out the claw and the tiny piece of the bone the claw is affixed to. Because the soft tissue and paw pad remain intact, and similar to laser declawing, there is less post-surgery discomfort and quicker recovery time versus blade declawing. This is a more precise and time-consuming procedure compared to blade declawing.
Does Declawing A Cat Affect Its Personality?
Numerous studies that have researched a potential correlation between cat declawing and personality changes strongly indicate that none exists. However, a declawed cat may feel pain or discomfort walking on surgically sensitive paws, which could indeed affect his or her personality traits and behaviors during the recovery period.
Should Declawed Cats Be Allowed To Go Outside?
Letting your cat outside after he or she is declawed could be dangerous, as declawing a cat takes away the ability to defend itself. Therefore, cat owners of declawed cats should be committed to keeping their feline friends indoors for the rest of its life.