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North Hills Monthly

The Dangers of Declawing Your Cat

May 01, 2018 07:54AM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine

If you have a feline family member, you’ve probably experienced the many benefits that come from having a loving bond with your kitty companion. You’ve probably also seen (or felt!) the familiar prick of those pointy paws. But, before you declaw your cat, it’s important to know the downsides–and dangers–of declawing your beloved family cat.

Why Cats Have Claws

  • Claws help cats grip and enjoy stretches that engage and tone their backs and shoulders. 
  • While humans walk on the soles of their feet, cats walk on their toes. Because of this, they need their claws to help them balance properly. Without claws, your cat is forced to alter the way it walks which can result in discomfort, pain and joint damage. 
  • Cats scratch to release happiness–which is why you may witness your kitty joyfully scratching their scratching post when you return home or after a play session with you or your other felines.

Why You Shouldn’t Declaw

  • Declawing is a painful procedure that actually removes part of a cat’s toes, cutting through bones and nerves. For humans, this would be the equivalent of cutting off a finger at the third joint, nail and all.
  • The removal of the bone and claw also has unhealthy, harmful side effects for your feline. Declawing can cause infection, abnormal claw growth within the toe, inflammation, arthritis or behavioral changes such as increased aggression, biting, emotional trauma or litterbox avoidance issues.
  • Animal Friends and the ASPCA discourage declawing–it is considered inhumane and is already illegal in 28 countries. Although it is not yet prohibited in the United States, several cities have banned the practice.

Safe and Healthy Alternatives

  • Ensure that your cat has approved surfaces to scratch. Cardboard, carpet, rope or fabric scratchers can be purchased or made at home. With a variety of scratching options, you’re sure to find a surface your feline will enjoy scratching more than your sofa!
  • Trimming a cat’s claws every few weeks can drastically reduce damage from scratching.
    TIP: Make trimming a pleasurable activity for your cat by offering some yummy treats as a reward!
  • Cats' claws grow continuously, just like human nails. The outer sheaths of the claws, which become dull over time, are shed when a cat scratches. As cats get older, they may not wear their claws down as fast, resulting in the need for more frequent claw trimmings.

With proper education, patience and a little positive reinforcement, your cat can continue to scratch happily without you or your home paying the price! Contact Animal Friends at 412.847.7000 or visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org if you need help training your cat to scratch appropriately. Your kitty (and your furniture) will certainly thank you!