Seacoast Area Feline Education & Rescue
Declaw - DON'T. DON'T. DON'T.
Declawing is the AMPUTATION of Each Toe on a cat's foot at the First Knuckle. It is Not "just removing the nail." Cats are digitigrade (which means they walk on their toes). When you REMOVE the toes, they are forced to walk on "the palms" of their hand. This shifts the alignment of the entire body, causing pain, and as they get older, arthritis sets into these joints. After amputation, your cat may not want to use his litterbox because now it HURTS to dig and bury a hole; so your cat might start to eliminate in inappropriately areas.
A cat expresses displeasure of an animal, item, or offending person (someone brushing too long, petting too much, stepping on their tail, etc.) by trying to move away from it, followed by a meow, a flinch of the skin, a swishing tail, rippling fur, laid-back ears & whiskers. Then, if none of those things work, they move on to a claw-covered swipe with a soft-paw. If That is ignored, they will unsheathe the claws and swipe again. As you can see...MANY chances have been given to the offender to "back off." If a clawed-swipe is unavailable (because the cat has been declawed), the cat will bite. Then the person is outraged: "How dare you bite me," and it can escalate. People who declaw their cat are more likely to get bit because the claw defense has been removed from the cat's arsenal. And, if a declawed cat goes outside, it has NO defenses to get away from a dog chasing it (it can no longer climb a tree or scale a fence) and is likely to be mauled to death.
If your cat is scratching your furniture and things, like a toddler, you Teach him how to behave in an appropriate manner. If you have a toddler who is running all over your house, breaking your things, you wouldn't cut off his toes to prevent him from moving around. (It would solve the problem, but it would be inhumane.) You would give him something appropriate to use and make the things you don't want him to use inaccessible or undesirable.
First, understand that a cat scratches for several reasons. There are scent glands in the cat's paw. When they scratch, they are "marking" (leaving a small amount of their scent on the target item). To a cat, this means "this belongs to me." If that item happens to be your favorite chair, the cat is smelling Your Scent and saying You belong to Me. It is a compliment (even if it is unsightly). To appease this desire to "mark" your chair, place a sturdy scratching post NEXT TO your chair. Put some double-sided tape on the corner where the cat is scratching, and the cat should transfer to the new surface which is right next to where he wants to mark. (You can slowly move the post away from your chair if it bothers you, but remember the cat is saying I Love You!)
A cat needs to scratch in order to exercise the muscles. They hook their claw into a surface and give it a good pull. This stretches the muscle and feels oh, so good! (just like you do when you give a good stretch). When you declaw a cat, they will never have that stretch again. How sad would you be if you could no longer have a nice stretch?
Cats use scratching surfaces to "file" their nails. In the outdoors, they use trees, pavement, etc. Inside, they are more likely confronted with soft carpet and furniture. Sometimes they will discover the door jamb. Use the double-stick tape and a scratching pole (right there next to the door jamb) to transfer the scratching to an acceptable item.
Your cat is NOT punishing you by tearing up your things. He is being a cat who has various needs. Supply those needs and he will behave in a manner that you will enjoy.
Declawing is Inhumane. Don't Do It! (In fact, it is already outlawed in much of Europe and several states in the US - soon to be more!) Here are some images of a declawed cat's paw (be aware that these pictures are graphic and may not be suitable for younger viewers).
Save your floors and furniture with Vinyl Nail Caps for Cats. A safe and pain-free alternative to declawing, they work by simply capping your cat’s claws with a vinyl cover. It applies easily with a safe and non-toxic adhesive and will not interfere with the normal extension and retraction of their nails, which means even the fussiest kitty won’t mind wearing them. So your cat can go about his routine of pawing and playing, and you don’t have to worry about unwanted scratches. Easy to apply and long lasting, they grow off along with the cat's natural nail. Some brands are Soft Paws, Soft Claws, and Kitty Caps. Choose from clear to a variety of colors to match your cat’s personality.
They are perfect for a cat that has some wounds or scratches around the eye/ear area that need to heal, much better than the e-collar. With the back nails covered, they cannot scratch the healing scabs off or create new injuries.
ALTERNATIVES to DELCAWING:
How to clip claws
Most cats have 18 nails (five on each front foot and four on each rear foot) that naturally retract while at rest. They can be extended for trimming by applying simultaneous gentle pressure on the top and bottom of each toe. Practice this and get good at it.
Just like our own fingernails, you must Know the Quick (the pink area of your nail bed). The quick contains blood and nerves that feed and provide sensation to the nails. If you trim a nail too short, you will cut into the quick. This causes pain and bleeding.
Cats very rarely resent nail trims unless the quick is struck. However, many cats do not like to hold still and have their feet handled. Cat parents should handle their cat’s feet every day. If your cat is used to having her feet handled, the job will be much easier. Kittens are especially amenable to this habituation, but it works for many mature cats as well. You can practice extending the nails while you are handling the feet.
Treats, petting and soft voices go a long way when it comes to how to trim cat nails. If your cat starts to get angry, abort the procedure. Cats have remarkably good memories, and if you fight with her to trim her nails, the procedure will only get more difficult over time.
Make the process quick and efficient. Very few cats will tolerate a 10-minute nail trim. Know what you’re doing, respect the anatomy and don’t bumble around. If you’re good, the nail trim will be over before the cat even knows she’s being restrained.
Use an appropriate nail trimmer to remove the tip of each nail. Move smoothly through the nails on each foot. When in doubt, it is better to remove too little nail than too much. The sharpest part of the nail is at the very end, so only a bit needs to be removed anyway. If you accidentally hit a quick, apply corn starch or a commercial powder such as Kwik Stop to control the bleeding. Remember that with nail trimming, as with so many things in life, practice makes a big difference. If you set your mind to regularly handling and trimming your cat’s nails, you will most likely get good at it.
Some cats prefer to scratch vertically, some horizontally. When getting a scratching device, you can use posts, cat trees, cardboard scratchers, even sisal welcome mats. Make certain they are sturdy, so they don't topple over when a cat climbs it. If that happens, the cat will not trust it again.
Watch How to Stop Your Cats From Scratching Furniture video with Jackson Galaxy