Don’t Declaw! Learn Why.

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What is declawing?

Declawing is the amputation of the last bone of each toe on a cat’s paw. A human equivalent is cutting off each finger at the last knuckle on both hands. There are multiple methods used to do this. The most common is a scalpel or a guillotine clipper. Laser surgery is also sometimes used, meaning a beam cuts through tissue by heating and vaporizing it. 


Why is it bad?

Declawing is incredibly painful for the cat and can lead to significant behavior problems. In fact, the practice is banned in many countries as well as New York, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and many cities. 

Declawing is known to cause chronic pain in the cat’s paws and back, even leading to lameness in some cases. Infections and tissue death are also not uncommon. This physical pain often leads to severe behavior problems.

One common behavioral problem associated with declawing is litter box avoidance. The paw pain associated with normal scratching/digging in the litter causes many cats to permanently avoid using the litter box, opting to go in other areas of the home. Another common behavior issue that arises is an increase in biting tendencies. Without their claws, cats have fewer defensive tools in their arsenal, leading to biting being the first instinct. 


Why do cats scratch?

It’s a vital part of typical cat behavior. Flexing their claws helps to relieve stress, stretch the muscles, and mark their territory. When they have their claws, scratching also helps with their claw maintenance. Scratching leads to a happy cat! 


How can I prevent my cat from scratching? 

The best thing to help your cat scratch in an appropriate manner is to provide them with ample scratching post options and daily enrichment. Having scratching posts (most cats prefer vertical options) in different areas of the house allows them to have an appropriate place to scratch their little hearts out. One scratching area is typically not enough! You can encourage your cat to use these areas by spreading treats and food around it to entice them. 

It’s also beneficial to regularly trim your cats nails. You can make them more comfortable with this by getting them used to you touching their feet and toes before trying to clip their claws. 

Deter them from scratching people by not using your hands, fingers, or feet in play. Teach each member of your family to respect the cats boundaries and body language to prevent them from getting scratched. If your cat does scratch, it’s best to not react in a negative way (yelling or smacking) but rather remove yourself from the situation to let the cat calm down. 


In Summary

Cincinnati Animal CARE does not condone declawing cats. As explained above, it’s in the best interest of the cat to have them keep their claws and deter scratching in other manners.

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