Cat Declawing Alternatives

Declawing Cat
One of the most controversial pet surgeries is cat declawing.  It used to be commonplace, but now there are veterinarians who no longer offer the surgery.  What is declawing?  Declawing is the surgical removal of the toenail, including attached bone.  It is essentially a minor amputation, requiring full anesthesia.  Most veterinary associations recommend that declawing only be done as a last resort, or when there is a risk of infectious diseases being transmitted from cat to human through scratching.

Why Cats Scratch

Cats scratch to mark their territory, maintain their claws, and defend themselves. Especially kittens, cats tend to play rough, which may result in scratching owners and other pets. However, not all cats confine their scratching to appropriate areas, and they can damage furniture, flooring, curtains, clothing, walls, and doors. Cat owners understandably prefer to prevent their cats from destroying their home. Before considering declawing, which is a final and permanent step, there are alternatives worth trying.


Scratching Posts

Ensure your cat has acceptable scratching options. Ready-made scratching posts are available in various styles, or you can craft something at home. Suitable scratching surfaces include cardboard, wood, and carpet, but ensure any carpet has short fibers and no loops to prevent claw entanglement. You can also utilize carpet backing or natural fiber rope wound tightly around a post. Offer both horizontal and vertical scratching surfaces, and consider including angled surfaces to maximize options. Scratching posts should be securely anchored and taller than the cat can reach when fully stretched. Use positive reinforcement training to encourage cats to use their scratching posts instead of furniture.


Frequent nail trimming can reduce your cat’s ability to scratch and cause damage.  Your cat’s claws may need to be trimmed as often as every 1-2 weeks.  You can also try filing your cat’s nails frequently to keep them blunt.

Nail Caps

You can buy temporary synthetic nail caps from a number of sources.  They come in a variety of colors, and use a non-toxic glue to attach them to the claw.  Your cat will still be able to use their claws for scratching, but they won’t do any damage.  Nail caps will need replacement approximately every 4-6 weeks as the nail grows out.  You can have them applied by a groomer, or you can do it at home.
If you are concerned about your cat’s scratching habits, consult a veterinarian.  If you are looking for a vet in Newmarket, you can call us at 905-898-1010.