Declawing your cat: why we won’t do it

Declawing your cat might seem like the perfect solution when your lounge furniture has to be reupholstered for the third time but at EberVet we are steadfastly against it.

It is a painful procedure that can be likened to tail docking – surgically altering an animal for the owner’s preference or convenience. We cannot advocate it.

How is declawing done?

A cat’s claw is not a toenail at the end of the toe as in other animals. It is movable digit attached to muscle as a finger might be. Strong ligaments and tendons give power to extend and retract the claws. This is unique in cats. Without this your cat would not be able to properly grasp, hold or establish footing for proper walking, running, springing, climbing or stretching. When the end digit, including the claw is removed, the sensory and motor nerves are cut, damaged and destroyed. They do not repair themselves or grow back for many months.  Remember that after surgery the cat cannot “rest” his feet the way we might after a foot operation but must continue to scratch in his litter box, walk and attempt to jump as usual regardless of his pain.

Declawing may also harm his personality

Besides the physical mutilation, declawing can change your cat’s behaviour in other ways. Knowing he no longer has the means to defend himself, some cats follow the precept of the best defense is a good offense, and will bite at the least provocation. Others may become depressed and lose the loving personality that made you choose him to start with.

train your kittens at a young age to use scratching posts

How do I keep my cat from ruining my furniture?

Ideally one should train your kitten from an early age to use a scratching post.

Posts made of sisal rope or carpet turned inside out are often better as anything softer may lead your kitten to believe that softer fabrics are ok to scratch. Training your cat to use this post takes some effort on your part. If you see him attempting to scratch on furniture or carpet, clap your hands gently, say no! then place him back on the sisal post. This will take some patience on your part but it will be worth it in the long run.

You can make the scratch post really attractive but putting cat nip on it, moving it to the site where they are currently scratching and then covering the floor at the site that he is inappropriately scratching with tin foil or clingwrap to make it unattractive to the cat. Catnip-treated cardboard scratchers, best used lying flat, are also effective.

scratching posts make great climbing posts too

Most cats are pretty smart and after a short time, and much praise, will get the idea. It is also essential to properly clip your cat’s claws with a well-made cat claw scissors. The sharp hook must be clipped off without injuring the pink quick. Cutting into the quick will hurt the cat and you will have a difficult time holding him quiet the next time. If you’re nervous about doing this, ask your vet for assistance.

If these methods fail, we would then recommend using Angelpaws. It is an effective and humane way to reduce the damage that the cat may cause to the furniture. It is done under veterinary sedation which carries some risk but the nail covers will last a few months.

Ask at our Country Animal Clinic for details.

feline nail caps