Declawing a Cat

Jul 20, 2019

Claw clipping time!
Credit altemark [Flickr]

Clipping a cat's claws must be done periodically because, like your own fingernails, claws continue to grow.  Claw clipping can be a good alternative to declawing, in part because it does not leave the animal defenseless.

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Last month, the New York state legislature passed a bill that banned declawing of cats. It has been sent to the governor for signature. Other states have considered it, and several cities have already banned the procedure.

Declawing of cats is one of the most controversial subjects among pet owners and pet advocates. The operation to declaw a cat usually involves the amputation of the tip of the toe - the equivalent of removing your fingertip at the first joint. Normally only the front claws are removed. It’s often done to prevent the animal from damaging the furniture by scratching it.

Many breeders and animal welfare shelters will not adopt a cat to someone who intends to have it declawed. Some cat lovers feel that the decision to declaw is made too quickly, that owners choose the easy way to protect their belongings, rather than the more time-consuming approach of training their pets to scratch on acceptable substitutes. There are situations, though, when dealing with an animal’s destructive behavior, that declawing may be the only alternative to evicting the cat from the home.

There are certainly things you can try to stop your pet from destroying your furniture. Clipping its claws is the one we use at our house - it’s easy to do, once the cat gets used to the idea.

My second favorite alternative is an inexpensive item called the “cat scratcher”, a shallow box containing a thick piece of corrugated cardboard scented with catnip. Cats seem to love it.

Another option is a scratching post, but it must be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of a cat pulling on it - if it is flimsy or unstable the cat won’t use it.

If you decide to have your cat declawed, you will have removed its protection from dogs and other predators, as well as its ability to escape by climbing. So you must be able to guarantee it will never go outside again. For safety’s sake it must forever be an indoor pet.

Keeping any animal as a pet may at times be inconvenient, but then a good companion is worth the effort, when you’re speaking of pets.

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