The Truth about Declawing

Many people have come to think of declawing their indoor cat as an acceptable and expected procedure just like spaying and neutering.  But most cat owners do not even know what is being done during this surgery.  The declawing surgery does not just remove the nail.  It amputates up to the last joint in their digit.  Even with a surgical laser, there is still post-operative pain.  Cats are very good at hiding pain and illness, as they are not only predators but prey as well, and know that showing pain is a weakness.  After the surgery, they will feel pain with every step.  Unfortunately, you cannot tell a cat to lay down and prop up his feet for a week after surgery!  The larger and older the cat, the higher the risk of complications, including infection.  The more weight they have on their feet as they walk, the more pain they will feel.  

Declawing is an unnecessary procedure.  Cats need to scratch on things.  It is a natural instinct and enjoyment in their life.  Cats mark territory in 3 ways.  They mark with urine, their faces, and by scratching with their feet.  You should give your cat an appropriate way to mark their territory with their claws.  Every cat should have a cat scratching post.  Ideally they should have horizontal and vertical surfaces to scratch on.  It should be a very sturdy post that will hold the cat’s weight and not tip over when they scratch.  In order to draw your cat to the post you can rub or spray cat nip on it to make it more desirable.  

If your cat is scratching on things that he shouldn’t, there are several things you can do.  Double sided tape or foil can be attached to the object they are scratching.  Cats do not like the feel of tape and foil!  If you catch them in the act, you can spray them with a water bottle to let them know this is not allowed, or you can take a softer approach and simply carry them to their scratching post and start petting them.  Make the post a happy place to be.  If you are lucky, while you pet them they will start kneading and realize what a wonderful surface it is to scratch on!  Feliway is a great product that can help with many issues.  Feliway is a synthetic hormone that mimics the hormone in their cheek pouches that cats use to mark territory.  This product comes in a spray or a diffuser that will permeate a room.  It can be used to keep cats from marking with their nails or urine, and also has a general calming effect for stressed out cats.  And don’t underestimate the power of regular nail trims!  Trimming a cat’s nails is easy, much easier than dogs!  I recommend starting this process with your cat as young as possible to get them used to it.  If you trim your cat’s nails every week, they will not have a sharp nail to do much damage with if they do scratch where they shouldn’t.   If you still cannot keep your cat from damaging your furniture, you can apply soft claws.  They are vinyl caps that you put on your cat’s nails with a drop of glue.  They can still scratch at anything they want but will no longer cause any damage.  These caps usually stay on for a month or 2  before needing to reapply.

Many people believe that after declawing their cats they have seen a personality change and difficulty maintaining their balance.  Some cats may develop an aversion to their litterbox due to pain experienced scratching in the box while their feet were healing.  In many countries, this surgical procedure has actually been outlawed because it is considered inhumane.    The AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners) changed their stance on declawing in November 2017 to say that they now strongly oppose it.  New studies have shown that cats who are declawed experience back pain from the change in the way they stand on shorter appendages.  So please give your kitty a chance to learn what they are allowed and not allowed to scratch on before you resort to an amputation.  

If you have further questions or want to purchase Feliway, nail trimmers, soft claws, or custom made scratching posts or cat trees, please stop in to Robyn’s Nest or give us a call.  If you do not know how to trim your cat’s nails, we can make an appointment with our groomer for you to get that done, and can even teach you to do it yourself.   

Robyn’s Nest, Inc.
1291 W. Market St..
Germantown, OH 45327
937-247-9272
www.RobynsNestRescue.com