I have a kitten who won’t stop scratching on my furniture. I’m considering getting her declawed. I hate the idea of it, but I don’t like her destroying my stuff! Is declawing my only option?
Frustrated with ratty furniture in Cottage Grove
The short answer is no — declawing your cat isn’t your only option, nor is it a kind or humane option. Scratching behaviors are normal for all cats, wild and domesticated. Not only does scratching a tree (or a sofa!) sharpen a cat’s claws, it is a marking behavior as well as an opportunity to stretch. And most cat owners can vouch for their cat’s yoga-loving tendencies.
New York leads charge against declawing
Until recently, declawing an indoor-only cat was an accepted practice in the United States. However, in recent years, a growing collection of vets have stopped performing this surgery, finding it harmful and wholly unsuccessful in helping a domesticated cat to conform to living in a home. The state of New York is the first state to ban declawing, otherwise known as onychectomy (amputation of the final segment of toe bone as well as the attached claw) for domestic, exotic and wild cats.
Declawing can lead to behavior problems
Cats are usually about 8 weeks old when they begin scratching. That’s the ideal time to train kittens to use a scratching post and allow nail trims. Pet caregivers should not consider declawing a routine prevention for unwanted scratching. Declawing can actually lead to an entirely different set of behavior problems that may be worse than shredding the couch, such as making a cat less likely to use the litter box or more likely to bite. Declawing also can cause lasting physical problems for your cat, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
If you are seeking a “quick fix” for the furniture-scratching, look into purchasing Soft Paws nail caps. Soft Paws are little rubber caps that slip over your cat’s natural claws and, while they won’t necessarily discourage the scratching immediately, they’ll lessen the damage caused to your furniture. This, along with consistent training, as well as offering acceptable places to scratch — such as a scratching post — should get you and your cat back in each other’s good graces in a jiffy!
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Pet of the Week
Meet Penny. Bottomline: you simply will not find a sweeter kitty than Penny. Penny is a 6-year-old gal who is bonded with her BFF, Stella (you can find Stella on the website listed below as well). Penny and Stella have lived together their whole lives and are ready for their fresh start. These gals would be tickled pink to be adopted together. To learn more about Penny (pictured) and Stella, visit http://www.saveacatrescue.org/.