Dear Cat Parent,
Declawing is NEVER the answer to a cat who scratches. Scratching is a normal feline behavior. It is impractical and unfair to expect Athena to stop scratching entirely. You need to show your love for her by understanding and meeting her scratching needs.
There are many reasons why cats may scratch:
Marking – cats have glands in the pads of their feet and they scratch to leave scent marks. They often do this to mark the belongings you share.
Nail maintenance – a cat’s nails grow in layers (like an onion) and they need to scratch to shed the outer nail sheath, or the nail could continue to grow into the foot pad.
Stretching and stress relief – cats scratchesto flex their spine. It feels good!
What is declawing?
Declawing is the amputation of the first digit of each toe, comparable to taking off your fingers at the first knuckle. It is not just a “nail” removal.
It is an extremely painful procedure. Removing the first part of each toe causes your cat stress and pain. This occurs right after surgery, during the recuperation period and often for some period afterward.
What are the risks of declawing?
Your cat can lose part of her paw pad. There can be deformed re-growths that are painful and require additional surgery. There is always the risk of infection with surgery, especially on her feet.
What is the effect of declawing on a cat?
Declawing can result in medical, behavioral and emotional problems. The effects may appear immediately, or may occur years after the amputation.
Medical issues – Declawing is an unnecessary amputation that is illegal in many countries. A cat bears about to 60% of her body weight on her front limbs. After declawing, she is forced to stand on parts of her feet not intended to support her weight, so there can be bruising or lameness for years after surgery.
Behavioral and emotional issues – Declawing a cat can lead to problems including litter box aversion, withdrawing and hiding, and biting.
Your kitty must stand in litter and bear weight on her mutilated toes, so she may associate pain with the litter box and avoid it.
Some kitties will become withdrawn, hide, or avoid interaction with you and others.
A cat’s first line of defense is her claws. When that option is taken away, she might resort to biting. Anyone who works with cats will tell you that a scratch is preferable to a bite wound any day! A bite is more dangerous due to the risk of serious infection.
Please explore the many non-surgical alternatives (see resources below). It should never be necessary to amputate her toes to stop your cat from inappropriate scratching!
If you feel that you must have a declawed cat, adopt a cat that has already been declawed and provide her the love and caring she will need.
Information on how to focus your cat’s instinctive need to scratch in appropriate ways:
http://m.humanesociety.org/animals/cats/tips/declawing.html – Declawing Cats: Far Worse Than a Manicure
catster.com — How do I get my cat to stop scratching the furniture?
catscratching.com — Above All, Don’t Declaw