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Don't Declaw - Reasons and Alternatives

Note from my cats - Patches, Baby, and Bea:

I've still got claws. My mom was going to have me declawed, but decided against it when she saw other cats' behaviour change after they were declawed, like biting. Also, I wouldn't be able to scratch myself (especially my ears) if I didn't have claws - wouldn't you hate having an itch and not being able to scratch it! Below is why you should not declaw your cat:

Declawing is radical surgery that involves amputating the first joint of a cat's toes. It's permanent, expensive, and irreversible, and may have unwanted affect on your cat's behavior, like biting.

A declawed cat frequently resorts to biting when confronted with even minor threats. Biting becomes an overcompensation for the insecurity of having no claws. Balance is affected by the inability to grasp with their claws. Chronic physical ailments such as cystitis or skin disorders can be manifestations of a declawed cat's frustration and stress.

In addition to the typical licking movements, they perform repeated scratchings. These scratching actions are a crucial part of the cleaning routine, getting rid of skin irritations, dislodging dead hairs, and combing out tangles in the fur. Without claws, it is impossible for any cat to scratch itself efficiently, and the whole grooming pattern suffers as a result. Even if the human owners help out with brush and comb, there is no way they can replace the sensitivity of the natural scratching response of their pet. Anyone who has ever suffered an itch that can't be scratched will sympathize with the dilemma of the declawed cat.

It has been argued that a declawed cat can learn to use its teeth more when grooming. It is true that cats often nibble an irritation rather than scratch it, but unfortunately, some of the most urgent scratching requirements are in the region of the head, mouth, neck, and especially, the ears. Teeth are useless here, and these important parts of the body cannot be kept in perfect condition with only clawless feet to groom them.

To remove a cat's claws is far worse than to deprive cat owners of their fingernails. This is because the claws have so many important functions in the life of a cat. A declawed cat is a maimed cat, and anyone considering having the operation done to his pet should think again. People hastily declaw cats hoping to protect their furniture as well as themselves from potential scratches. It's natural for a cat to scratch, but with a little human effort, you can direct that energy so that you, your cat, and your furniture can comfortably live together.

Climbing is second nature to all small felines, and it is virtually impossible for a cat to switch off its urge to climb, even if it is punished for doing so. And punished it certainly will be if it attempts to climb after having its claws removed, for it will no longer have any grip in its feet. Even the simple act of climbing up onto a chair or a window ledge may prove hazardous. Without the pinpoint contact of the tips of the claws, the animals may find themselves slipping and crashing to the ground. The expression of disbelief and confusion that is observed on the faces of such cats as they pick themselves up is in itself sufficient to turn any cat lover against the idea of claw removal. If the cat accidentally gets out of doors, it is defenseless against enemies (other cats in a cat fight, dogs, mean humans, etc.). In addition, scratching offers psychological comfort through its rhythmic action, and reassurance of self-defense by the contraction of the claws.

Also, Bungled surgery can result in the regrowth of deformed claws or in an infection leading to gangrene.

In short, a declawed cat is a crippled, mutilated cat, and no excuse can justify the operation.

Six Simple Alternatives to Declawing Your Cat

A tall, sturdy and heavy scratching post sprinkled occasionally with catnip is the favored alternative. Some cats are partial to sisal doormats.

When selecting furniture, a closely woven fabric is the best. Cats find this type of fabric difficult to pierce with their claws.

When your cat begins to scratch on a piece of furniture, give him a firm warning such as "No, Kitty!" and then give him a quick squirt from a mister or water pistol. This should discourage him.

Then call him to his scratching post with a food treat and praise him when he comes and uses the post. This may have to be done over and over until he understands.

If accustomed to the procedure, cats will tolerate having the curved part of their claws clipped regularly. Consult your veterinarian for instructions.

Until your cat learns that only the scratching posts (it's recommended that you have several), are for scratching, cover his favorite furniture scratching areas with either one or a combination of aluminum foil, a loosely woven fabric, double-sided tape, or blown up balloons taped to the furniture.

When playing with a kitten or cat NEVER use your hand or arms in play. This teaches him that people are toys and he may scratch simply in play. Each time your cat scratches you, give him a loud "OUCH" and leave the room. One of the most effective punishments for a cat is being ignored.

Scratching is the very essence of a cat being a cat. These simple, inexpensive modifications in your cat's behavior and environment can eliminate damaged furniture and scratched humans.

Remember again, declawing is radical surgery that involves amputating the first joint of a cat's toes. It's permanent, expensive, and irreversible, and may have unwanted affect on your cat's behavior.

Please consider other alternatives such as SOFTPAWS nail caps before committing your cat to surgery.

I have captured stray kittens my whole life, and I've trained them not to claw the furniture. I say, "Stop," firmly, and immediately put them on cat furniture and move their paws up and down. I also spray them with a water bottle, say "No" firmly and put them on the cat furniture. I buy "sticky strips" to put on all my furniture to protect it and keep the cats from clawing. The sticky strips don't harm the furniture and can be removed after you have trained your cats not to scratch the furniture, but to scratch the posts or cat furntiure instead. There are also Comfort Zone plug-ins and sprays that make a cat relaxed and stop them from clawing in that area also stop other behaviours, like using the floor for a litter box. (I had a male cat who was a Siamese who didn't like to use the litter box, and I had to clean my house every morning from him peeing behind my tv on the cords and in other places - until I bought Comfort Zone from Petsmart! It really works! I also use the Sticky Strips outside on my cables to stop the pack rats from chewing through them, and it worked!

I was busy with caring for my mother with Alzheimer's 24/7 and taking classes, and I still was able to train my cats not to scratch the furniture without having to mutilate them by declawing them.

For more info on declawing and alternatives, see the following links. Thank you (from your cat(s)!

Is Declawing Cruel? Alternatives!
SOFT PAWS - Nail Clips For Cats (an Alternative to Declawing)

If you have a cat that is declawed, please don't be upset if it bites or does other undesirable behaviors since they are from it being declawed. Talk to a vet or someone in a pet store or a cat physchologist about how to help your poor cat cope the best it can with being declawed. Please don't get rid of your declawed cats since they can't care for themselves outdoors (and it's not safe for cats to be outdoors with the threat of being tortured or killed), and don't take it to a shelter since they euthanize cats that are not adopted, and it's chances of being adopted are not good. If you must, please find a no kill shelter or someone who has experience with declawed cats and is willing to care for it (like myself). I love cats and have a lot of patiences in caring for them. I don't believe there are any "bad cats" since I captured so many stray kittens and older cats who were wild, and I gave them lots of love and they showed me love back! I trained them not to claw my furniture or to scratch myself. I lived with a cat that used my home for a litter box, and I didn't get rid of the cat, but I loved it and found ways to live with the cat. My cats are more important to me than my home or furniture, or how it smells. (There are many ways to have a nice smelling home with odor absorbers and litter box powders, etc.). Thank you!

My cats are my children and my life, so I do everything for them!

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