Safe Alternatives to Declawing Your Cat
At one time or another every cat owner has seen their kittens begin to look longingly at the furniture or set their feline sights on the upholstery. It is the point at which you may be tempted to contemplate declawing your cat.
But once declawed, it will be very hard for your cat to function properly both inside and outside of the home. Claws are cats first line of defense, and they require them for climbing and for traction landing as they jump. Equally important, claws are tools of hygiene for your cat, their principal device for scratching and cleaning their fur. Claws also give cats their primary sense of balance and agility.
Declawing is a procedure that can be painful, can ultimately effect behavior, and in many cases has proven to be an unnecessary procedure. It is not done in Europe and the U.K., where it is not permitted under humane regulations, and in some countries, such as Germany and Switzerland, it is illegal.
There are a variety of safe alternatives to declawing your cat. Scratching posts are one of the most common and effective ways to redirect your cats enthusiasm for clawing. Cats actually prefer scratching posts, because they can sit on their hind legs and stretch upwards, their natural position. More than one scratching post can be especially useful in two story homes. Often, cats just need a place where they can exercise their natural need to sharpen their claws, and scratching posts are also a proven way that cats relieve stress.
Another possible addition to your home, and one that does not match anyone’s decor, is the cat tree. Also called a cat tree-house or climber, this is a carpet covered tree-shaped structure standing between five and six feet high, with a number of tubes and shelf-like places for cats to sit, lie, sleep and, of course, scratch. Usually placed in dens, recreation rooms and finished basements, cat trees provide the feline equivalent of an indoor climbing gym combined with spots to sit, and places to scratch.
Among the other alternatives to declawing your cat are nail caps. One brand, Soft Claws, says it all: they slip right over the cat’s nail, are kept in place by an adhesive and are non-toxic. Nail caps are extremely comfortable, and most cats forget they are wearing them.
For brave owners and calm cats, nail trimmers allow you to cut the nails to a flat, rather than pointed, surface. However, trimming nails requires caution not to cut too far, and only certain cats will even consider letting you do it. There are circular nail trimmers made for this purpose, but there are just not many cats willing to consider letting you use them.
If you are building or remodeling, consider installing pet friendly flooring. A stylish, durable pet friendly floor will not scratch, and if your cat is already declawed, will provide the badly-needed traction hardwood and linoleum and other smooth surfaces don’t.