August 8, 2016

General Surgery

Four Alternatives to Declawing Your Cat

by Aili V. Heintz, DVM

Declaw surgery is not the only way to help stop our cats’ scratching and clawing behaviors. If you are trying to avoid declawing your cat, here are some other options to try at home.

1. Frequent nail trimmingDeclaw

Trim your cat’s nails with a cat nail trimmer or even a human finger nail trimmer. Do not cut the quick of the nail, as this will cause bleeding and discomfort for your cat. The quick is the pink portion of the nail that you can see through white or clear nails.

If you are unsure or uncomfortable with trimming your cat’s nails, ask your veterinarian for help. A technician can teach you how to trim the nails at home, or she can cut them for you in the office.

2. Scratching posts

Provide areas that are “ok” to scratch. After all, scratching is a normal behavior for cats. Scratching posts or kitty condos are great places for your cat to release some scratching energy. You can purchase these items at your local pet store. You can also make them out of wood and carpet remnants. Rub catnip onto the scratching post to help attract your cat to the appropriate scratching area.

3. Claw covers

You can find SoftPaws and other brands of claw covers at most pet stores. These covers fit over your cat’s nails and prevent damage to furniture and people. With most claw covers, you trim your catdeclaw furniture’s nails and glue the covers in place. While these covers can be helpful for some cats, other cats are annoyed by them.  Cats may rip claw covers off despite your best efforts.

Monitor your pet’s nail growth. His claws will continue to grow under the covers.  Normal nail growth may cause the covers to fall off.  Each set of claw covers should last 4-6 weeks.  If you leave the covers on too long, your cat’s nails may become ingrown or painful.

4. Protective covering over furniture

Use covers to protect your furniture. While this isn’t the most ideal or the most visually-appealing solution, covers do help to protect your furniture.  You can quickly remove the covers right before your company arrives!

You don’t want your feline friend to tear apart your favorite chair, and you don’t want your kitty to maul your arms during a play session.  However, you may want to avoid declawing your cat. There are options to help you find that delicate balance. Talk to your veterinarian about your concerns so you can minimize the “pain” of your cat’s scratching behavior!