Thank you to the Humane Society for information on this important and often misunderstood topic.
Scratching is normal cat behavior, and it doesn’t aim at destroying your favorite chair or getting even. Cats scratch for many reasons: to remove the dead husks from their claws, to mark territory, and to stretch their muscles. But what if they are scratching where you don’t want them to?
Have you ever heard that declawing cats is an easy, painless way to get them to stop scratching up all your stuff? Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, declawing can cause major health problems and lead to worse behaviors than scratching. Plus, there are other ways to reduce unwanted scratching.
Many countries have banned declawing, such as England, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand. The Humane Society of the United States opposes declawing on principle, except for the rare cases when it is necessary for medical purposes, such as the removal of cancerous nail bed tumors.
We’ve heard many myths surrounding declawing. For example, it won’t necessarily protect people who are immunocompromised or living with clotting disorders from threats caused by scratches. Internal medicine specialists do not recommend declawing as a means of protecting human health. In fact, fleas, bites, and contaminated cat litter pose more potential problems.
As we mentioned, people also think it’s a simple procedure that is harmless. Let’s talk more about that one below.
People usually think that declawing the equivalent of having your fingernails trimmed. That’s not even close to being true, unfortunately.
Declawing actually involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe. If performed on a human being, it would be someone cutting your finger off at last knuckle. It is an unnecessary surgery that provides no medical benefit to the cat and can in fact cause medical harm. Mindful cat owners can easily train their cats to use their claws in a manner that allows everyone in the household to live together happily and with no furniture damage involved.
Medical drawbacks to declawing can include:
In the postoperative period, shredded newspaper typically replaces clay or clumping litter in the litter box in order to prevent litter from irritating declawed feet and suture sites. This unfamiliar litter substitute, accompanied by pain when scratching in the box, often leads cats to stop using the litter box completely.
Some cats may resort to biting and institute it as a common behavior because they can no longer rely on their claws for defense and boundary setting.
Cats are usually about 8 weeks old when they begin scratching. That is when you should start to train kittens to use a scratching post and allow nail trims.
If you are worried about your cat damaging your home, or want to avoid unwanted scratching, start with these tips:
This is why we require our adopting pet parents to agree that they will not declaw their cats after adoption.