Blogs and Stories

September 1, 2019
Amy Wade Carotenuto

De-Clawing Your Cat?

Thinking about declawing your cat? Please think again.

New York recently became the first state in the U. S. to ban cat declawing, a practice that most of us animal advocates will tell you serves no benefit to felines and is done typically for the convenience of the owners to protect couches and curtains. Declawing has been illegal in many European countries for years.

The New York bill passed by a wide margin and will impose a $1,000 fine on veterinarians in New York who perform the procedure for nonmedical purposes. That means pet owners in New York will no longer be able to have their cats declawed for cosmetic or behavior reasons.

Many years ago I was a tech in a veterinary office. Seeing kittens wake up from this surgery, their legs bandaged, their cries pitiful, taught me a lot about declawing and it’s even harder on the adult cats.

Cat's claws are actually closely adhered to bones. So closely that to remove the claw, the last bone has to be removed. Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat's toes.

I will admit, that the practice of declawing has advanced since my days as a vet tech. Lasers are used now, the wounds are smaller, but the surgical procedure still causes pain and remember that during recovery cats don’t have access to crutches or wheelchairs like we would, if our feet were operated on.

When you think of how painful those first few times scratching back in the litter box must be, even with bandages, even with newspaper instead of litter, it’s no surprise that declawing often leads to litter box issues. When an owner wants to surrender an adult cat because they no longer use the litter box, our first question is often "Is the cat declawed?" simply because we see so many instances of declawed cats not wanting to use a litter box.

So that brings us to the long term commitment of a pet owner who declaws a cat. You absolutely should not allow a declawed cat to be an outdoor cat. They are defenseless against predators, so make sure you are willing to keep Fluffy indoors, even if she stops using her litter box.

So, have I talked you into looking at other solutions to keep furniture and small children from getting scratched by pet cats?

If so, here are a few ideas. A simple jar of pennies shaken to make a loud noise can startle Fluffy if you catch her starting to scratch your furniture. After a few tries, she will associate the loud scary noise with scratching your couch. Instead, offer her some furniture of her own. A sturdy scratch post (sisal posts are super popular) made even more tempting by sprinkling some catnip on it, will surely please your cat. There are also lightweight vinyl nail caps that can be adhered on the cat's claws. These are good for households with small kids and are also useful for working people who aren’t home enough to train a cat with the jar of pennies trick. These vinyl caps last about four weeks. They come in clear or colors—which are really fun. We provide them at FHS for a small cost. Many cats and their owners really like them.