Before you accuse me of being one of those whiney, wimpy pet owners, give me a chance. For I, too, just like you, once believed that declawing a cat was no big deal. I mean - c'mon - so he gets some nails clipped off, so what? He'll get over it! My carpet and furniture will be saved and everybody's happy.
The Cold, Hard Truth
First of all, did you know declawing is illegal in nearly two dozen countries around the world? And for good reason. Despite popular belief, cat claws are not like our nails. Each claw is actually closely adhered to the bone, and that means that the last bone of the cat's claw has to be removed - kind of like amputating the last joint of your cat's toes. Not exactly a simple manicure.
It's really not a humane act. It is a painful surgery, with a painful recovery period, in which time the cat will still have to use its feet to walk, jump, and scratch in the litter box - regardless of his pain.
Aside from the physical pain, losing claws is a huge psychological ordeal for a cat. A declawed cat feels defenseless because one of her main ways of protecting herself is suddenly gone.
You might be thinking, “Defenseless?!? My cat's a spoiled, indoor kitty who never has to worry about predators!" It doesn't matter. The cat's instincts are still there - whether it's an indoor cat or not. Declawing can cause a once-friendly cat to become so habitually fearful that he hides or hisses any time an unfamiliar face appears. He may even resort to biting when he feels threatened. Declawed cats may also suddenly refuse to use the litter box, possibly because the postoperative pain in their paws gets worse when they dig in their litter, and the association makes them avoid the box.
So, what's a frustrated feline lover with tattered furniture to do? Before you throw your hands up in the air, there are some solutions. I'll be honest, these products I picked up at PETCO work for a lot of cat owners, but not for everybody. At least give them a shot:
- Sisal Posts/Scratchers - These durable, scratchy surfaces are treated with catnip to attract your kitty. They help your cat groom his claws while saving your carpet and furniture.
- Soft Claws Nail Caps - Soft plastic nail caps glue over your cat's nails. They're easy to apply at home, comfortable for your cat, and won't interfere with the normal extension and retraction of his claws. They come in all different sizes.
- Millers Forge Cat Claw Scissors - Clip your cat's claws frequently to keep them from getting too long and sharp. (But only if they're indoor cats!) These scissors come in all styles and sizes.
If none of these ideas work, ask your vet or a fellow cat owners for other solutions. Your cat will thank you for it!
Jed Yorkshire is a retired teacher and pet enthusiast who writes about canine health topics, specialty breeds, animal training and grooming. An avid pet lover and breeder, he owns four beautiful Giant Schnauzers. Yorkshire also works as a private pet behavior consultant.