Alternatives to Declawing your Cat
When cats scratch things, they are attempting to put their scent on that object and mark it as theirs. Scratching is an undesirable behavior so some people elect to declaw their cat to save their furniture and belongings. Occasionally, declawing cats can cause issues- especially in adult cats. While it does not happen often, some adult cats will not use their litterbox anymore after being declawed at an older age. They can even have chronic phantom pains. If the declaw is not done correctly, your cat may also have regrowth of the nail.
Here are some things that you can try to help prevent your cat from scratching your furniture:
1. Trim their nails. Trimming your cats nails helps keep their nails down to a manageable length and then they can’t scratch your furniture.
2. Provide an appropriate place for them to scratch. You can buy a cat tree and/or a scratching post. This gives them an appropriate place to sharpen their nails and scratch on something. There are even products that you can buy to attract them to the scratching post.
3. Try pheromones. Scratching can sometimes be due to stress. Feliway is a pheromone product that can be used for cats. It is a “feel good” pheromone that helps them relax. There is also a product made by CEVA (the company that makes Feliway) that attracts them to a scratching post.
4. Soft paws. These are nail caps that you glue onto your cat’s nails to prevent them from scratching. Unfortunately, some cats do not like to keep these on and it usually becomes more problematic than helpful. Nail trimming is less time consuming and usually better tolerated by the cat.
If you must declaw your cat, there are a few things to keep in mind to make this procedure less painful for them:
1. Local pain blocks: This is pain medication that is put directly into the paws to provide added pain relief at the surgical site.
2. Laser surgery: A surgical laser is used to do the procedure instead of a scalpel blade. The laser cauterizes as it cuts, so it minimizes bleeding. This reduces inflammation, which reduces pain.
3. Declaw at a young age. If you declaw your kitten when they are 4 months of age as opposed to when they are full grown it is usually better tolerated because they are smaller. The less weight they put on their paws, the less painful the recovery will be.
4. Anti-inflammatory medications after surgery: Onsior is an oral chew that is used as an anti-inflammatory in cats. It reduces inflammation, which reduces pain. This is the only anti-inflammatory medication that is safe to use in cats.