Cat Declawing: Controversy Swirls Around Common Procedure to Stop Cats Scratching
Declawing a cat is easily one of the most controversial topics in the pet world. Cat declawing has already been outlawed in over two dozen countries around the globe, and many people believe feline declawing should be banned in the United States, too. Declawing is one topic that certainly stirs up heated reactions.
Understanding Why Cats Scratch
Feline behavior is often puzzling, even to veteran cat owners. The owner provides at least one seemingly wonderful cat scratching post, and the kitty turns up her nose at it, preferring the nubby texture of the upholstery on the living room couch, or clawing a hole in the drywall in the laundry room. It’s easy to understand the frustration of a human whose feline indulges in such behavior.
Cat behaviorists point out that scratching is a normal feline behavior. Most people think that cats scratch things to sharpen their claws. This is true to an extent, but it’s thought that the main reason for this behavior is to mark their territory.
Kitties have scent glands in their paws, and when they scratch the couch, they leave a scent mark behind. Humans are visually oriented, but cats communicate by using their sense of smell. Any cat owner can attest to this, since a feline often uses scent to identify people he knows.
When Kitty scratches the couch, he’s leaving behind not only a visual mark, but also a scent marker as well. Cats in the wild, both large and small, scratch trees to let other felines in the area know who owns this territory.
Once a cat has scent marked an area, he’ll tend to return to it, scratching the same place over and over again. This is why the corner of the couch is shredded, or why the tree in the yard has a bare spot clawed in the bark.
Do Nail Caps for Cats Stop the Scratching?
Many cat owners wonder about declawing alternatives, such as Soft Paws for cats. This product is a set of nail caps that are glued onto the cat’s claws. Quite a few owners are pleased with the results, and the caps don’t seem to bother most felines at all.
It’s worth noting that nail caps for cats aren’t the complete answer. The feline nail caps do wear off, although not all at the same time. It may be necessary to reapply some of them again, often within a couple of weeks. They also need to be replaced as the cat’s claws continue to grow.
Some cats are undeterred by these caps and continue on their merry way, happily carrying on with destroying the furniture, nail caps or not. But it’s definitely worth trying them to see if they make a difference.
What if Nothing Works?
Many cat owners have tried trimming their cats’ nails, retraining them, and using nail caps, but with no success. It’s hard to stop cats from scratching, given the fact that it’s something that comes naturally.
Turning the cat over to an animal shelter may be the only alternative to declawing. This isn’t a good answer either, because a shelter will have a hard time placing a cat in a new home when he has a known habit of clawing the furniture. Chances are that the feline will end up being euthanized.
Declawing a cat isn’t an attractive option, but in certain cases, it does make it possible for an owner to keep the kitty, and it may even save the cat’s life. Anyone who has ever worked in a vet clinic has seen both sides of the issue, and can agree that there really are no easy answers for the problem. It’s up to the cat owner to make a decision that works for him or her.