13, rue des Cerisiers (Gaspé, QC) G4X 2M1
Clinique vétérinaire Ève Woods-Lavoie inc.
24/7 soins d'urgence
418 368-2288

Cat’s declawing

Thinking about having your cat declawed?

Let us explain what exactly declawing is, what are the short-term and long-term consequences and what alternatives exist.

Cats scratch!

Cats are animals with claws and they need to maintain them regularly as they would if they were living in the wild… to remove dead cells, for instance. A cat’s claws are also its means of defence or attack.

If it chooses to sharpen its claws on furniture or a carpet, it can cause considerable damage. When it plays or catches insects, it can also damage walls or curtains.

Such situations might encourage cat owners to think about declawing their cat, the idea being to reduce the risk of injury or damage. However, a declawed cat is more likely to bite when it plays or tries to defend itself. In the end, the scratching problem is simply replaced by a biting problem.

Did you say onychectomy?

Declawing (or onychectomy) from the Greek word onyx, which means nail) consists of removing a cat’s claws.

In humans, the nail grows in the skin; in cats, on the other hand, it is rooted in the bone.  To remove a cat’s claws, the bone in each of its digits has to be cut. Regardless of the method use, the result and consequences are the same. Although anti-pain medications used during and after the operation are increasingly effective, it’s easy to imagine the pain the amputation causes. This pain can become chronic and cause behaviour problems like aggressiveness and poor toileting.

Why doesn’t my cat use its scratching post?

People often put the scratching post in a corner where it’s out of the way. But scratching is an activity cats use to mark their territory. It’s their way of saying, this is mine. This explains why the living room door or the corner of the sofa (the cat’s spot) is often its favourite target.

A scratching post that’s too small will fall over the minute the cat touches it with its paws. Because the scratching post serves in the place of a tree, it should be sturdy and tall enough (sometimes as much as 90 cm) for the cat to be able to stretch itself fully. Faced with a small, wobbly scratching post or the sofa corner, the cat will pick the sofa! Finally, it is important to understand that if a cat has already damaged something with its claws, the marks will encourage it to return to the same spot. So the surface needs to be repaired and the scratches smoothed away.

Claw caps can really helps you

If you’re not convinced of the effectiveness of the suggested methods, you can try using claw caps, a product developed by a team of veterinarians, until your cat is used to its scratching post. A tiny, self-adhesive vinyl cap is applied over each claw. Your veterinarian can even show you how to apply them yourself!

 The 3/10 Program

3 steps to get your cat to use a scratching post in ten days

1. Stabilise the scratching post

The post must be tall and stable. If you’ve already bought a scratching post but it’s not sturdy enough, raise a corner of the sofa and push the base of the scratching post under a sofa leg. Your post will be sturdy and located in the right spot: at the corner of the sofa!

2. Put the scratching post in the right place

Put the post in the spot where the cat already sharpens its claws and not where you would like it to do so. Choose a spot at the corner of the sofa or in a doorway.

3. Make the scratching post attractive

Get your cat to discover the joys of digging its claws into the scratching post by attaching a stick toy or putting some catnip, a treat or food on the post.

What are the real risks?

The risk of serious injury due to cat scratches is very slight and often exaggerated. If a cat’s claws are removed, it will have no choice but to fall back on the only way it can still defend itself or warn others to leave it alone… biting. Cat bites are generally considered more serious than scratches because bites often have to be treated at the hospital due to the risk of infection.

Declawing and abandoned cats

Some people believe that if declawing becomes illegal, more cats will be abandoned. But countless studies have shown that this is not at all the case since the two main reasons people abandon cats are due to behaviour problems, either toileting-related issues (urine and excrements) or because of aggressiveness… problems that very often arise after declawing.