Should I Declaw My Cat?
Declawing amputates the end digit and claw of a cat's paw - similar in scope to cutting off a person's finger at the last joint. This procedure can cause substantial discomfort and complications after the operation. Declawed cats may become reclusive, irritable, aggressive and unpredictable, and may have a tendency to bite as they cannot scratch to give warning.
Clinic Side Note: Another unwanted behavior post-declaw is the reluctance of using a litter box. It is mainly due to paw sensitivity regarding the litter substrate.
While other, newer methods exist for declawing (for example, laser surgery), the end result is still undesirable for your cat as it prevents her from engaging in normal cat behaviour. The OHS does not support declawing. It should be considered as a final option after you have exhausted other alternatives to eliminate destructive behaviour. However, if you feel that you must either declaw your cat or give her up, the OHS would rather see your cat stay in her home. If you decide that it is absolutely necessary to have your cat declawed, only have the front paws done, so that the cat can still scratch an itch, climb and defend herself. If this is your decision, consult your veterinarian first and discuss having the surgery done at the same time your cat is spayed or neutered.
WHY DO CATS SCRATCH?
Scratching is normal cat behaviour, not a comment on your upholstery. Cats scratch in order to:
- Remove the dead outer layer of their claws
- Rub their scent onto things to mark their territory
- Stretch their bodies and claws
- Work off energy
- Seek your attention when they want something
HOW CAN I STOP MY CAT FROM SCRATCHING?
You can't. Scratching is normal behaviour for your cat; it becomes a problem only when the object being scratched is an item of value to you. The goal is to redirect the scratching to an acceptable object, such as a scratching post.
SHOULD I PUNISH MY CAT FOR SCRATCHING?
Punishment is effective only if you catch your cat in the act of scratching unacceptable objects and have provided her with acceptable scratching objects. Punishment after the fact won't change the behaviour. If you do catch your cat in the act, try making a loud noise (for example, use a whistle, shake a soda can filled with pebbles or slap the wall or a table) or use a water-filled squirt bottle. Conversely, when your cat claws the scratching post instead of your couch, praise him.
CAN TRIMMING MY CAT'S CLAWS HELP?
One reason cats scratch is to remove the dead outer layer of their claws. Regularly trimming your cat's nails can help reduce scratching.
Ottawa Humane Society
245 West Hunt Club