Alternatives to Declawing Your Cats by Jacen Laframboise

So, you got a lovely bonus from work for all the extra hours you’ve been putting in. You rush out to the store and get that beautiful leather sofa that you’ve had your eye on for months. You go to work after setting up, excited for people to see it later that evening. You arrive home, full of anticipation for that dinner party tonight, everyone is going to love that couch! But, when you open the door, you notice some fabric near the door. Following the trail through the house, like Hansel and Gretel, you see a sleeping, self-satisfied cat curled up on your now destroyed sofa. Scratches, holes and lining everywhere!

Bad, bad kitty!

Okay, so that may have been a slight over exaggeration, but you get the point. No one wants their things to be destroyed by a cat that didn’t know any better, or happened to not like the smell of something. So, a lot of people have heard of declawing and think that it is the only way to stop a cat from clawing. Thankfully, this isn’t true.

First, a bit about the procedure: There are a few different methods of declawing your cat, but the one that is used most often involves removing the bone on each toe that the claw grows from. Without removing this part of the bone, the claw may grow back. You can liken this to removing the tip of each of your fingers, where your fingernail grows. As you can probably imagine, this is a rather involved surgery and does require quite a bit of recovery time and medication. You will need to use special litter for a couple weeks; to keep the areas clean, as clay and sand litter can affect the surgical areas and have the potential to cause infection. Additionally, antibiotics and pain medication will be sent home, as well. The procedure isn’t inexpensive either. And some veterinaries will not perform the surgery at all.

Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives available, to go along with adequate scratching posts, or safe areas for your feline companion to claw with abandon. The first one is simple. It just involves trimming your cat’s nails regularly. This is easy to do at home, and the nail trimmers are cheap. Some people even use human fingernail trimmers, as well. We all have those. A lot of people are reluctant to trim at home, out of fear of hurting the animal. Cats, though, have clear nails which help you see which parts of the claw you can safely trim which parts to avoid. Clear = trim me, pink = stop. Any of our vet tech would be more than will to demonstrate how as well, if you have questions. If you really just don’t feel comfortable, we can always do it for you at Coxwell Animal Clinic.

The second alternative, which is the one I use, is the use of a product called Soft Paws. These are essentially little plastic caps that are safely glued over the tips of your cats claws that blunt them. They stay on for a couple months at a time (depending on the cat, of course) The application is slightly more involved and you may require help. The cat’s claw is trimmed slightly and a small cap with a safe adhesive is placed over it. After a few seconds, the claw is covered and there will be no more ruined sofas. They do need to be replaced from time to time, but one package contains 40 caps, so it has a number of uses in each package. Plus, they come in many colours! Its like painting your cat’s nails! Oooo! Fancy kitty!

Of course, whichever route makes the most sense for your family (furred and human) is the best for you, but I wanted to make sure you have some more information before deciding if this is a situation you find yourself in. As always, if you have any questions, never hesitate to give us a call here at the veterinary office and we can go over any of these options with you!

Image reference: Google Image: Belle Ami Bengals