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De-Clawing Cats

August 07, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

De-clawing your cat is another heated debate in the cat care industry.
People de-claw their cats for two reasons.  The first one being that they want to protect their furniture, drapes and rugs from being scratched and the second one is they want to protect themselves or their children from being scratched.  

People may not realize, but it is a natural daily instinct for cats to stretch their bodies upward and scratch to tone their muscles and mark their territory. Because of this instinct, many de-clawed cats will develop psychological effects as well as very real physical effects after the procedure. Also, outdoor cats need their claws for climbing, chasing and self-defense.

People think they’re just removing the claw, but just like in humans, the nails are attached to the fingers and toes and so de-clawing a cat is a major surgical procedure that actually cuts off, or amputates, the toes across the first joint.  Sometimes by accident, it even includes part of the foot pad.  It can take a cat two weeks or more to recover and the side effects may be physical and emotional.  A newly de-clawed cat wonders why his feet are throbbing and who did this to him.  The physical complications of de-clawing cats include lameness, abscesses, joint pain, bleeding and sometimes arthritis or re-growing of claws. De-clawed cats are also more apt to use their teeth to scratch.  

Many vets won’t perform de-clawing for all those obvious reasons and will instead teach you how to train your cat to use his claws in an appropriate place, like a scratching post.  You can use catnip to attract your cat to the post and at the same time, apply sticky tape to furniture and drapes your cat was using to deter him from these areas.  Also, gently trim your cat’s nails regularly or try using soft acrylic caps available at most retail stores or online. Some vets may perform a less invasive tendeonectomy, which removes a part of the tendon of each toe so claws can’t dig in. Recovery is faster and less painful but you’ll still need to trim your cat’s nails. Laser de-clawing is a new alternative some vets may perform because it causes less bleeding and a reduction in pain.  Your cat will still be prone to the same amount of infection, abscess and psychological ramifications with these alternatives.

Read all about it online. You can even learn how to make your own homemade, highly effective scratching post which would be fun to do with children. You may learn all about the benefits of regular outdoor exposure for cats and it’s relation to their claws and general health.

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