Declawing and alternatives
May 26th 2017
Care and treatment
A declawing or onychectomy is an elective surgery (not obligatory for the the health of the animal) that is performed on cats and involves amputating the distal phalanges of the animal’s toes, those that hold the nails. However, this practice is strongly discouraged by the various veterinary associations, such as the Ordre des Vétérinaires du Québec, and more recently by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.
What are some alternatives to declawing?
First, you must take into consideration your cat’s regular behavior in its environment. Check to see if your cat prefers to claw a rug or a vertical surface such as the armrest of a sofa. You can then make or buy a solid scratching pad or post that is covered with carpet or hemp. It should be stable and long enough that the cat is able to stretch out its entire body when clawing it. The scratching apparatus can be sprinkled or sprayed with catnip and should be placed at your cat’s favorite location in the house.
When your cat uses the scratching pad or post, reward it with a treat or by petting it. Discourage inappropriate clawing with a firm « No » or by spraying it with a bit of water. When you leave your home, close off all of the areas that contain articles that you do not want your cat to claw. You can use two-sided tape to protect the corners or the legs of your furniture. Kittens start to claw when they are less than one month old. It is recommended to supply them with a scratching pad as soon as they are born.
You can ask your veterinarian or animal health technician to show you how to cut your cat’s nails.
• Press lightly on the pads of the paws to make the nails come out.
• Cut the transluscent part of the nail which does not contain veins, not the pink part which is called the pulp. The pulp grows slightly along with the transluscent part and will cause severe pain to your cat if it is cut. Nail trimming is a necessary precaution that is not painful for your pet. By cutting your cat’s nails twice monthly, there is less chance of the cat hurting someone or damaging your furniture.
Another alternative that is strongly recommended by veterinarians is Soft Paws. These are soft plastic nails that are glued onto the cat’s nails. This procedure can be done in a veterinary clinic by a technician or by yourself at home.The Soft Paws do not interfere with the cat’s ability to extract and retract its nails nor with the natural growth of its nails. They will eventually fall off as the cat’s nails grow and would need to be replaced every six to twelve weeks. The Soft Paws are totally harmless and non-toxic. The glue that is used to apply them is the same type of glue that veterinarians use during surgical procedures.
Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions and don’t hesitate to talk about it with your veterinarian on your next visit!