Perhaps you’ve read about the horrors of declawing, or perhaps you’re considering having the procedure performed in an effort to stop your cat from scratching your expensive sofa or that antique wood dining set that’s been in the family for generations.
First step back, take a breath, and make sure you understand what declawing means. The name of the procedure seems innocuous, but the truth is much more brutal — declawing your cat is tantamount to removing the tips of every one of your fingers up to the first knuckle, and most cats aren’t even given pain medication for this major, invasive and completely elective surgery.
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“It’s the amputation of a cat’s toes to protect a couch,” Dr. Jennifer Conrad, founder of the non-profit Paw Project, told New York lawmakers considering a declaw ban earlier this year. “None of us went to vet school to protect couches.”
Cats are “stoic animals,” Conrad told Front Page Meews, and their natural inclination is to hide pain — but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel the pain of amputation just as acutely as a human being does.
While declawing advocates say the procedure is used only as a last resort, the statistics prove otherwise, meaning owners aren’t doing the proper research or exploring all the options available to keep a cat-safe and furniture-safe home. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise — it IS possible to have both a cat and nice furniture, and it’s not nearly as difficult as you may think.
As with most solutions to cat-related problems, a combination of things usually works better than any one cure-all, so here’s a list of alternatives that will save your furniture — and save your beloved cat a lifetime of pain:
1) Get a scratcher.
Image: Raelene Gutierrez via flickr
Surprisingly, not everyone’s tried this or is willing to do it. Some people don’t want “ugly” scratchers in their living rooms, and others decide it’s not worth the expense, but it is. A solid, quality tower scratcher should be a major feature of any cat-friendly home, and should immediately make an impact on your cat’s scratching habits. Always provide more than one scratcher, especially if you’ve got more than one cat, and differences matter — if you’ve got a vertical scratcher, try adding a horizontal one, and experiment with different textures.
2) Make sure your cat is using her scratcher.
This is as simple as redirecting your cat to her scratcher every time you catch her going for the side of the couch. Just pick her up, place her down gently next to the scratcher, and praise her when she uses it. If your cat doesn’t get the hint, add a bit of catnip to draw her interest to the scratcher, and don’t be afraid to “demonstrate” its use for your cat by gently raking her paw across the sisal surface.
3) Get nail caps for your kitty.
Image: JJ Losier via Flic
Yes, nail caps for cats are a real thing. They’re called Soft Paws or Soft Claws, depending on the brand, and they neatly cap your cat’s claws with a little adhesive. Most cats will forget they’re wearing them within an hour, and while wearing paw caps they can still “scratch” to their hearts’ content, because it won’t do any damage.
4) Clip your cat’s nails.
Image: Alexander via flickr
This seems like an obvious solution, but just like buying a scratcher, some owners don’t bother because they think it’s too much of a hassle or it won’t make a difference. For others, there’s the problem of uncooperative cats. Well, there’s some good news — it’s easier than it seems, especially with a little patience. Don’t try to clip your cat’s nails when he’s bounding around or chasing toys — wait until a calm moment, perhaps as he’s lounging or napping, and ease his discomfort by petting him, praising him, and giving him treats as you complete each paw.
5) Get some double-sided tape.
Some people are reluctant to try this because they don’t like the idea of tape on their sofa, but just like a Ssscat,
Some people are reluctant to try this because they don’t like the idea of tape on their sofa, but just like a Ssscat, double-sided tape doesn’t have to remain in order to be effective. Just a week or two of keeping tape on problem areas can be enough to permanently dissuade kitty from trying to scratch those spots again. Cats don’t like the feeling of adhesives against their paws or fur, and will actively avoid sticky spots even after the tape is gone.
6) Get Feliway spray or a diffuser.
Use next to the couch or piece of furniture that’s most attractive to your cat. Feliway mimics natural feline pheromones, which helps to calm cats down. A diffuser by itself might not do the trick, but it help things along and make life easier when you’re trying to redirect your cat to a scratcher or trim kitty’s claws.
Remember: a small inconvenience to you, or a one-time purchase of a few cat scratchers, is immeasurably better than maiming your furry friend for life for simply acting like a cat. When you adopt, cat scratching comes with the territory — it’s a completely natural behavior, and from his perspective, your cat isn’t doing anything wrong. So don’t take the “easy” route thinking it’ll solve all your problems, because declawing is not just cruel, it also leads to other problems down the line, like avoiding the litterbox and biting. A few simple and easy adjustments now can make life much easier and happier for you and your furry little friend.