“Clawing” is a natural behaviour for cats. They enjoy the sensation, it’s a form of exercise, can help them maintain the condition of their nails, stretch their muscles and even visually mark their territory.
As a life long cat parent and a
cat sitter in Kitchener-Waterloo I have long been quite outspoken about the declawing procedure. Declawing is NOT a kitty manicure.
I don’t want to use this forum for the graphic descriptions of the procedure or its side effects but if you are interested in more facts there is an excellent article HERE.
NEW STATEMENT FROM THE CVMA
I, for one, was very pleased when in March 2017 the Canadian Veterinary Association changed its stand on the declawing of domestic cats. They now clearly oppose the procedure issuing this statement, “opposes elective and non-therapeutic Partial Digital Amputation (PDA), commonly known as declawing or onychectomy, of domestic cats.”
They have finally agreed that the declawing procedure causes “felines to suffer needlessly when undergoing this surgery as an elective measure. Furthermore, behavioural research has advanced to allow veterinarians in this field to help clients modify unwanted scratching behavior without the completion of an Onychectomy.” They also agree that the procedure has no benefits for the cat and, indeed, may result in long term health and behavioural problems.
Claw removal can still be performed if there is a tumor present or in the case of chronic infections or if the owner is immune compromised and may be too susceptible to diseases caused by feline scratching. It should be used as a last resort as opposed euthanasia for those cases.
ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES TO DECLAWING?
Owning cats has also taught me that despite providing all sorts of alternatives the furniture is still one of the favourite scratching options for cats. If you want to protect your furniture or if you have a kitty that is a little on the aggressive side – are there alternatives to declawing?
One of the favourite (quite trendy and stylish I might add) ways is using “Nail Caps” (also known as “soft paws”). These are easy to apply, completely safe and humane and best of all can be used on cats of all ages. They stay in place for approximately 4-6 weeks and will fall off as you cat’s nails grow.
Should your cat accidentally eat one of the nail caps ... no worries ... they are glued on with non toxic glue and the material they are made of is also non toxic. The nail caps will pass right through with no ill effects on your cat.
Popular consensus on various sites I checked is that they are a little tricky to fit for kittens, but it can be done. Be prepared for the first set not to last too long. Kitty has to get used to them.
This goes without saying, but providing your cat with many “scratching appropriate” alternatives throughout your home helps a lot. If you cat does not seem interested in scratching posts try rubbing in a little catnip to make it more attractive – praise a lot and some treats when the post is used can reinforce good behaviour.
Some scratching posts come covered in carpet that is not appealing to some cats. Try removing the carpet and wrapping the post, or chair leg, in sisal rope. Many cats prefer this texture to that of looped carpeting.
Adding fun things to play with to the scratching post make the area a fun place for your cats. Anything that attracts you cat to the post will work. It doesn’t have to be expensive … just creative!
Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed goes a long way when is comes to protecting your furniture and your skin. Shorter nails that are trimmed regularly tend to be more blunt as opposed to those razor blades that cats keep sheathed away in their paws. If you are planning on doing this yourself it may take a little training for yourself and your cat. Make sure to invest in a good pair of pet nail clippers and go to a groomer or a vet to get some instructions on how to do it properly.
I had a kitty that loved to jump into my lap whenever I was using an emery board to file my own nails. We made it cuddling time and he allowed me to keep his nails filed down too. There is some strange attraction between cats and emery boards? Someone much more on the ball than me even came up with a scratching mat made of the same material as emery boards.
If your cat is bound and determined to scratch one particular spot then you can try some forms of deterrent to discourage the behaviour. Try covering the area in tin foil or double sided tape – cats or not fond of the feel of these materials. You can also visit your local big box store and buy a piece of plastic runner and attach it to the area with the pointy side out. This will deter the clawing without hurting your cat.
In the case of absolute stubbornness on the part of your fur-baby you can purchase sprays to apply to the scratching areas. These are undetectable to humans but mimic pheromones to your cat making it assume that another cat has already marked that territory. These are available in most pet stores. Make sure you get ones for inside and not the ones for the garden.
WHAT NOT TO DO
Yelling at your cat, making loud noises, spray bottles or “spanking” are never good ideas. While they may discourage your cat from the behaviour chances are very good that your cat will associate the punishment to you and not the clawing. You never want you cat to feel you are not safe, that they cannot trust you or worse, that they need to fear you.
Have you come up with any clever ways to deter your cat from clawing you or parts of your home? I’d love to hear about some original ideas that work.