Cats love to scratch. Cats, in contrast to their owners, do not necessarily make a distinction between the new couch, the scratching post, or the wood frames around the doors -- they all work great to fine-tune their sharp appendages! This difference of opinion between cats and their owners can interfere with a great friendship and a lifetime bond. Understanding declawing and its alternatives can help owners make the best decision for their clawed companions.

Training

   Training to a scratching post is a non-surgical way to deal with the problem. Because scratching is a normal behavior for cats, they are not likely to stop the behavior completely. The goal of training is to transfer the behavior from the furniture to a scratching post. This type of training is best accomplished if you can spend some time hanging around the house. Kitties need constant reinforcement to keep them away from your favorite chair. Catnip or treats can be used to entice your cat to the post.


   A squirt bottle can be used to punish the cat. A quick burst of water is all that is needed for most cats. It is important that the correction is not associated with the owner, otherwise the lesson learned is not to scratch while the owner is watching.
Furniture can be made unacceptable by laying foil, plastic or using spray deterrents.

Soft Paws®
   These blunt vinyl nail caps are glued onto the cat's claws. The idea is that the blunted claw will not do damage when the cat scratches. The owner is taught how to apply the nail caps by the hospital staff. The negative side is that the caps will wear off and not necessarily at the same time. The caps must continually be replaced.

Surgical Declawing
   This technique involves removing the claws surgically from the front or all four feet while the patients is under general anesthesia. The two most important parts of the procedure are complete removal of the part of the bone that produces the claw and pain control. The incision is usually closed with surgical glue or sutures. The feet are bandaged after the procedure and the cat will need to stay in the hospital for a night. Since clay litter can get into the incision causing an infection, shredded paper litter is needed for about two weeks after the surgery. Pain control is provided with injectable medication. Like any surgical procedure it is important to select a good surgeon. 

   At The Animal Center our standard operating procedure requires general anesthesia, aseptic surgical preparation of the feet, a textbook incision and transection or the nails, post operative feet bandaging with no contamination, and pre and post operative pain management. If done with these standards of practice, surgical declawing can be one of the easiest and best methods for solving the scratching problems for indoor cats and their owners.

Additional Considerations
   It is important to note that declawed cats have lost a small part of their ability to defend themselves and should be kept inside most of the time after the surgery. Declawed cats are still able to catch prey and climb trees however, so do not have this surgery done in an attempt to save your backyard birds. In fact, most of your cat's behaviors will remain very much the same after the rampant furniture destruction has stopped and a lot of relationships are greatly improved! It is always a good idea to discuss your options with your veterinarian. For more information please call The Animal Center at the number below.

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Surgical Declawing and the Alternatives