There is nothing better than the excitement one experiences when bringing a new furry family member home. The trips to the pet store to buy the toys, beds and treats is almost like Christmas! You feel so prepared and can’t wait to shower your new pet with love and affection.
Over the next few weeks, you and your new kitten are bonding and learning about eachother. She loves to snuggle, and your phone is full of videos of her daily antics. But you’ve noticed that your sweet new baby has begun scratching and she has picked your favorite sofa as her personal scratching post.
What do you do?! All your friends suggest declawing your new kitten. “You’ll never have to worry about your furniture being wrecked again,” say your friends. When you ask if it hurts them, they assure you she will be fine. But something just does not sit right, so you decide to do some research on your own and you are shocked at what you find…
Declawing is the amputation of an animal’s digit up to the first joint. This includes all the bone, tendons and ligaments that surround the digit, and this is repeated ten times. This is the equivalent of a human having all their fingers amputated to the first knuckle.
This procedure is not without risks and complications contrary to what many believe. Your kitten could suffer from abscesses, lifelong pain, lameness and in some cases regrowth of the claw which is extremely painful. If the amputation is not performed properly and the claws/nails do grow back your new pet will have to have a second anesthetic procedure to fix it.
Some cats also experience such severe pain after declawing that if affects their litterbox habits. If you’ve ever seen a cat in a litterbox, you know that they dig and bury their feces and urine. This natural act can become excruciating for a newly declawed cat. They now associate their litter box with pain and many cats choose to eliminate elsewhere, like your furniture or carpet… And these are just a few of the physical complications.
Your kitten could also experience psychological and behavioral difficulties as well. There are cases of cats doing a complete personality 180; you drop off a well-adjusted sweet kitten and months after their procedure they are terrified and miserable; dealing with physical pain as well as emotional. Because a feline’s claws are such an integral part of their existence; when you remove them, they replace normal behaviors with coping mechanisms. Now, instead of swatting with claws when they feel threatened, they may bite, because now they feel vulnerable and scared.
Cats also use their claws to mark territory, Without their claws some felines resort to marking with urine. Unfortunately, this is not a behavior that is easily reversed and in many cases is permanent. There are many cats living in shelters because they were surrendered after a declawing procedure.
The bottom line is that declawing is an unethical and inhumane procedure and there are better options out there for you and your pet! Silicone nail covers such as soft paws can be applied to the natural nail. Your cat is still able to mark their territory and defend themselves without ruining your furniture…or you! Soft paws are affordable, and application is easy with a little help and some practice. Here at Cane Bay Vet Clinic, we’ll even put them on for you!
There are also products on the market like Feliscratch that uses pheromone and scent therapy to teach your feline the appropriate places to mark. Never underestimate the power of positive reinforcement as well! Most people view cats as aloof and unresponsive to typical pet training, but you would be surprised at how well a cat responds to praise when they do something right.
If you are a new feline owner in the Summerville, South Carolina area, please give us a call! We would love to discuss a care plan for your new family member and answer any questions you might have.