Historically, cat owners everywhere defaulted to declawing their pets in order to protect their property and prevent injury. We are learning, though, that scratching is a very natural part of normal cat behavior and an important part of feline well-being. While declawing is still an option for some, there are some effective declawing alternatives.
While scratching may be one of the less desirable activities your feline friend enjoys, that does not mean that it should be stopped. In fact, as you might have discovered, it is nearly impossible to teach a cat to stop scratching.
This is because scratching in cats serves several fundamental needs and important purposes. Among these:
- Stretch and strengthen the legs
- Scent marking
- Removal of old nail sheaths
- Maintenance of claw health
- Visual marking of territory
While some cats may be more persistent and passionate about this behavior, all cats engage in scratching to some degree. To ask them to stop is asking them to not behave like a member of the feline species.
Recognizing that scratching is going to happen is an important step in deterring your pet from causing damage. While declawing is certainly an option, there is no need to feel that it is the only option. There are several things you can do that may work for you and your pet.
Effective Declaw Alternatives
Just because you opt to not declaw your cat doesn’t mean that you must submit to destruction in your home. The answer to living in harmony with your pet often lies in encouraging normal scratching behavior within your own boundaries and exploring declaw alternatives.
A cat owner who would like to keep his or her kitty with claws needs to pay attention to:
- Regular trims – Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed regularly is essential to minimizing damage. Most cats could use a trim every 1-2 weeks. Reward your cat for allowing a pedicure and be sure to ask us if you need a demonstration. We are also happy to do your cat’s nail trims for you as part of our grooming services.
- Provide options – If you fail to provide an attractive place to scratch, chances are your cat will choose before you can. Provide several scratching options for your cat, being sure to observe what and where your cat already likes to scratch. In general, a secure, vertical surface that allows full stretching is preferred. You may need to experiment with different surfaces, such as wood, carpeting, cardboard, or heavy fabric. Also remember to reward your pet with physical affection, a treat, or playtime when he or she uses a desired scratching surface as an important part of the training process.
- Nail caps – Several brands of silicone-type nail caps, such as Soft Paws, are available. These caps are glued onto your cat’s claws in order to prevent damage during scratching.
- Check your environment – Cats may scratch more when they are anxious, stressed, or even bored. For this reason, making an effort to enrich your cat’s environment can be very helpful. Products like Feliway are also helpful in reducing stress.
If you absolutely want a declawed cat, don’t forget that our local shelters often have many already declawed cats up for adoption. By adopting one of these homeless pets, you can save a life as well.