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Cat Declawing and Alternatives

grey cat legs and paws laying on a pink background next to a mouse toy on the right. On the left side are white cat paws with a rainbow ball toy.

What is Declawing?

Declawing is an unnecessary and expensive surgery that fewer vets are willing to perform and some states have banned. It is the amputation of the last bone of each toe and severing of tendons. Declawing alters the way a cat walks, their balance, and their ability to jump. For comparison, it would be like cutting our finger off at the first knuckle. 

Declawing Hurts

Not only is the surgery quite painful, but cats may experience lifelong pain or develop severe arthritis that requires medication as they age after a declaw.

The pain may result in the following behavioral problems and lead to rehoming, surrender to a shelter, abandonment, or euthanasia.

  • Not wanting to be touched
  • Biting
  • Litterbox Avoidance

MYTH: “Declawing prevents cats from scratching furniture, thereby keeping them in their home.”
FACT: There are humane alternatives to prevent furniture scratching that does not involve surgical amputation. Declawed cats are also defenseless and can never go outside!

Humane Alternatives

Cats scratch to remove the dead outer layer of their claws, mark their territory, and stretch and flex their paws. It’s important to provide an appropriate place for them to express this natural behavior and provide nail maintenance to avoid unwanted scratching.
If the cat scratches furniture, place a scratching post nearby, trim nails, or place double-sided tape on the area to deter them. Never punish your cat for scratching.

Scratching Posts

Put a scratching post in a high-traffic area of a room where you spend a lot of time. Ensure vertical scratching posts are sturdy, won’t tip over, and tall enough to allow the cat to extend when stretching fully. Also, try horizontal scratching pads to see which your cat prefers.

Soft Paws

Soft paws are vinyl caps you glue onto your cat’s nails. They need to be reapplied every 4-6 weeks and allow the normal function of a cat’s paw. 

Nail Trims

Trimming your cat’s nails every couple of weeks helps prevent destructive clawing.

How To: Gently squeeze their paw to extend the claws. Look for the quick—an area that contains nerves and blood vessels that support the claw, and cut below this area. Carefully trim the tip of the nail horizontally to the ground. Use sharp nail trimmers designed for cats.  

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