Why do cat's have
Cat's need their claws for various reasons. They use them for communication with people as
well as with other cats. They can scratch at themselves to show another cat they are
relaxed around them, they can "make bread" on their favorite human to show their
love and trust. They also use them as grooming tools. When they have a scratch claws will
itch it and if there is a tangle or mat in the hair they can scratch at it with their
claws and work it out . If a cat should ever accidentally leave the safety of his home, he
needs his claws to hunt for food, defend himself against any predators and also to scurry
up a tree if needed to escape to safety. Claws play a very important part of a cat's life.
With a little bit of
time and love most cats don't need to go through declaw surgery. There are plenty of
options to consider first to
avoid undo trauma and risk to your cat and potential problems due to declawing.
What exactly is
When a cat is declawed, the procedure is called Onychectomy. What this involves is
the amputation of not just the nail itself but also the amputation of the end toe joint.
Painful? Sure it might be...and in some cats, the pain may last a week or many weeks
(depending on the cat, the age of the cat and the size of the cat).
Tendonotomy is another
operation that prevents the use of the claws. In tendonectomy, the tendon that
allows the cats nail to extend is severed so the cat isn't able to extend or retract his
nails anymore. Problems with this procedure include possible joint fusion or arthritis
problems. Also, the nails still need to be trimmed and since the cat can't claw to
naturally trim down the nail there is the danger of the nail growing into the pad of the
foot if trimming is overlooked.
Are there any
complications of declawing?
Complications of the declaw surgery can include hemorrhage, infection, nail regrowth
(which can cause serious pain and are very difficult to remove because it grows back
deformed) and altered feeling to the toes (which has been linked to inappropriate
litterbox habits that develop after declaw operations). The cat may lose trust with the
owner for a short time and sometimes months after surgery and, if this happens, the cat
may avoid humans as if they had been abused. Cats without claws may become biters since
they have lost one of their other means of defense. Sometimes, there may be lameness
associated with declawing, especially if it is an older cat being declawed. There are also
complications that may arise due to any surgery such as cardiac arrest or to much
Alternatives to Declawing...
There are numerous options to help us leave our cats feet intact. Cats can very easily be
trained to scratch on cat trees or posts. A VERY inexpensive favorite is the corrugated
cardboard scratching pad. These are priced from $4.00 and up and with a little bit of
catnip sprinkled on top it will keep a cat occupied for hours. Scratching posts can be
very easily made to with a 2 X 4 and some sisal rope (available at hardware stores for
little money). All of these would be preferred by the cat with little to no coaxing.
Retraining can very easily be done by not allowing the cat in a room where problem spots
are and offering several of these alternatives to the cat. After a couple weeks of solely
scratching on what we want them to, then gradually introduce the cat to the areas where
there had been problems and strategically place the new and improved scratch surfaces on
or near the problem spots. If the cat would choose to go to the problem spot, gently take
the cat and place on the scratch pad to redirect them.
Nail trimming is also very helpful. Weekly trimming can help keep
the destructive edge off of the claws and makes them virtually harmless. Also without the
extra growth there it also reduces the need to scratch since some of the time they scratch
it is to shed the outer sheath from the nail. If the cat is resistant to trimming it is
helpful to teach the cat that handling the feet is alright. Make rubbing the feet part of
the normal petting procedure. Petting the kitty from head to toe...literally! This will
help build trust with the cat and confidence with the human.
probably has available a product called Soft Paws. These are kind of like
"artificial nails" that are much softer and less destructive than the cats
natural nail. These are glued onto the cats nail and they just need to be replaced as they
break or fall off. Of course normal nail trimming is necessary before and in between