Cat Declawing Alternatives

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Cat Declawing Alternatives

Brooker Ridge Animal Hospital
Published by Dr. Zak Saleh, PhD, MVSc, DVM in Client Education · 11 February 2020
Tags: AlternativestoCatDeclawing
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, keep their claws in top condition, and defend themselves.  Cats, especially kittens, tend to play rough.  Owners and other pets can be scratched during play.  Unfortunately, not all cats confine their scratching to appropriate areas.  Cats are capable of ruining furniture, flooring, curtains, clothing, and can even damage walls and doors.  It’s understandable that cat owners would rather not have their cats destroy their home.  There are alternatives to declawing, which may be worth trying before taking the final, permanent step of declawing.

Scratching Posts
Make sure you have acceptable things for your cat to scratch.  You can buy ready-made scratching posts in all sorts of styles, or you can make something at home.  Good scratching surfaces include cardboard, wood, and carpet.  Make sure that any carpet is short and not made of looped fibres that your cat can get their claws caught in.  You can also use the carpet backing.  Some commercial scratching posts also use natural fibre rope wound tightly around a post.  You should offer both horizontal and vertical scratching surfaces, and it doesn’t hurt to throw in an angled surface to give your cat as many options as possible.  Scratching posts should be securely anchored, and should be taller than the cat can reach when stretched right out.  Positive reinforcement training can be used 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 colours, 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 to be replaced 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.


Brooker Ridge Animal Hospital - 905-898-1010

107-525 Brooker Ridge, Newmarket, ON L3X 2M2

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