Declawing, or onychectomy, is when the end of the toe is amputated to remove the toenail. Most often cats are declawed to prevent them from destroying furniture. That is, for purely cosmetic reasons. The practice of declawing is a controversial one: do a quick internet search on the effects of declawing, and you will find graphic images and polarized opinions. There are a variety of possible side effects, including long-term pain, aggression, and litterbox issues. Unfortunately, scientific studies on the long term health and behavioural effects of declawing are sparse, and overall inconclusive. What does this mean for you, the cat owner?
Declawing your cat is not a decision to be made lightly.
There could be permanent negative effects on your cat’s health and behaviour if you declaw her. Is it worth the risk? We don’t think so, and if you are looking to adopt from Zoe’s, we’ve made the call for you: we do not allow any of our cats to be declawed. But does that mean you need to live a hard, uncomfortable, fabric-free existence? Perhaps not. Here are just some of your options.
The Cat Tree
Provide your cat with things that she’s allowed to scratch. Even trendy things: gone are the days of tacky, office-carpet-stapled-to-plywood cat posts. Encourage kitty to use them by putting catnip on the tree, and giving her treats and affection when she uses it.
The Dreaded Spray Bottle
In combination with providing good spots to scratch, make the couch seem like a crummier option by spritzing kitty with water whenever she goes to scratch it. Soon she will back off when she hears the sound of the bottle shaking.
The Spa Day
Trim kitty’s nails frequently to reduce the amount of damage she can inflict. Give her treats afterwards to make it a good experience.
The Ultimate Spa Day
Try Softpaws. They’re plastic nubbins that fit over your cat’s nails. They need to be re-glued as her nails grow, but on the plus side, they look fabulous. Both vets and pet stores sell them.
The Tearful Goodbye
Some types of furniture just aren’t going to work with cats. Leather will get scratches. Tweed will get pilled. But microfiber, velvet, and slipcovers are all good places to start in your search for a cat-friendly couch.
The take-home here is that there are a lot of opportunities to get creative in making your home cat-friendly and stylish at the same time. It will take some thought, and maybe some trial-and-error, but your cat will likely appreciate being able to keep her talons. We can’t tell you that the bad things said about declawing are true, but we don’t think it’s worth the risk.