Maybe you’ve heard, maybe you haven’t. Declawing cats is kind of bad news. Most people are against it, vets included. It’s a nasty process that sort of screams laziness. And yes, I know there are legitimate reasons to declaw a cat (I have a great reason as well). But there’s equally great alternatives that are cheaper, less painful, and more humane.
First Off, What Is Declawing A Cat Really?
This is probably the part that creates confusion. When I first heard the idea of declawing a cat I figured they plucked out the nails from their paws, pretty simple right? Well, the reality is that declawing is a bit more intense than that.
Declawing a cat involves amputating the last bones on their toes. Yes, you read that right, when you declaw a cat you are removing their bones to prevent claws from growing.
Why Is Declawing Bad?
Outside of the obvious extreme pain that your cat will feel getting their bones amputated, declawing is associated with a plethora of issues in cats that can last their lifetime.
There’s an immediate psychological affect that comes with declawing a cat, it makes them feel more vulnerable and more like prey than a predator. This is normal, and this can dissipate in time.
The more important long term effects involve physical ailments, such as foot pain. Since declawing a cat removes bone, it adjusts the way a cat walks on their foot and can cause severe long term pain to their paws and even back.
The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have even made a statement discouraging declawing of cats as the cons severely outweigh the benefits.
4 Alternatives You Can Do Instead Of Declawing A Cat
Okay, declawing is horrendous. But what about my furniture? What are my alternatives if I want to keep my cat safe and healthy and I also want to have furniture in my house?
Invest In A Scratching Post
Your cat simply needs a way to remove dead nail, so they scratch at things. It’s a natural reaction for them, and if they are scratching your furniture or carpets, it’s probably because that’s the most effective option for them.
You need to get a scratching post for them. Maybe you already have one, and if that’s the case you may need to get a new one. The fibers in a scratching post are only good for so long, and cats may decide to use something else if it gets too worn out.
Trim Your Cat's Nails
Cats hate getting their nails cut, but sometimes you have to do it. If a cats nails get too sharp they get stuck in and on everything, which is usually what causes all that damage to your furniture.
Start by inspecting your cats nails every once in a while to see how long and sharp they are. If you feel they are too long it’s time to cut their nails! You can read our guide on cutting a cats nails here. If you skip the guide, just remember to be careful not to hit their blood vessels.
Train Your Cats To Avoid Furniture
This one is a little tricky, but a better long term solution. We wrote an article on keeping cats off furniture that details this topic pretty well, but the gist is that you need to train them not to scratch the couch or whatever furniture you don’t want destroyed.
Training can take time and be a long process. You will need to work at this frequently and relentlessly as well as combine it with at least some of the other tips in this article for the best outcome.
Get Them Cat Nail Caps
Yes you read that right, you can buy your cat nail caps. It’s like fake nails for cats. They sell lots of colors and styles, so you can really have fun with this one, but I don’t think your cat will enjoy it so much.
Cat nail caps are simply plastic covers for your cats nails that remove the sharp edge so they stop destroying all your furniture. You can buy a huge pack and have some fun giving your cat different nail colors and styles.
In general, these don’t stay on much longer than a week and they are a bit tricky to get on cats, so be forewarned this option is probably not great for a long term solution.
In summary, if your cats are giving your furniture a hard time, it might be time to do something about their nails, but please don’t declaw them unless for medical purposes. There’s a lot of alternatives to declawing a cat, and they are all a lot cheaper and more pleasant for your cat than a declawing surgery.