Alternatives to Declawing Cats

When we adopted our first indoor cat several years ago, whether to declaw or not wasn't the first thing on our minds. Luckily, we adopted our cat from a knowledgeable no-kill cat-only shelter. They required that we sign documents stating that we agreed against declawing. Their documentation included information such as, "I agree not to declaw because it is inhumane and will render the animal defenseless if it should get outdoors." Even though our cats are fully indoor cats and only go outside occasionally with us, we followed their advice and chose not to declaw.


Fast forward a bit of time, we ended up learning more about declawing. Feeling disgusted after reading about cats being in pain immediately and potentially long-term, we were relieved we hadn't declawed any of our cats. If you are interested in learning more about why declawing is terrible, you can read about it here: http://citythekitty.org/painful-truth-declawing/ This article is written by Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM, who has twenty-two years of experience.

Siamese Cat Playing with String, Against Declawing
Siamese Cat, Nina, Playing with String

Fortunately, many locations in the United States are now making declawing illegal. Cities such as West Hollywood started the approach many years ago. According to PetMD, many states are now following suit. New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, West Virginia, and Florida have passed, or are currently passing, anti-declaw legislation.


On July 22, 2019, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed the legislation, stating,

“Declawing is a cruel and painful procedure that can create physical and behavioral problems for helpless animals, and today it stops. By banning this archaic practice, we will ensure that animals are no longer subjected to these inhumane and unnecessary procedures."

https://www.petmd.com/cat/pet-lover/declawing-cats-illegal


I know there are examples of cats getting adopted and already being declawed by prior owners. I also understand that sometimes declawing is necessary for a cat's well-being. However, if you are doing it for the sake of your furniture, please reconsider. There are so many alternatives to declawing cats that will keep everyone happy.

Siamese Cat, Nina, Showing Nails, Tongue, Fangs
Siamese Cat, Nina

I write this post with many years of experience stemming from having no idea how to handle furniture getting scratched. We've lost a couple of sofas, an ottoman, countless other fabric and leather pieces of furniture. Honestly, we never really cared. It wasn't ideal, but it also wasn't the end of the world. Fortunately, we have learned tips along the way to prevent such instances in the future. These tips are from our personal experiences; please consult your vet as necessary.

Happy Siamese Cat, Against Declawing
Happy Nina

Find these tips outlined below:

POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT

When your cat does what's preferred (like use a scratching post), reward the cat heavily with treats, toys, baby talk ("Good job, good baby!"), etc.


Sometimes, we will also scoop our cats up and stop them from scratching something not desired and instead place them on what's appropriate. If you can't stand something getting destroyed, try this.


FURNITURE TAPE

Invest in furniture tape. We have resorted to using furniture tape on our costlier items. We have used it on our living room sofa, bed, and storage benches. This is what we have bought on many occasions, but note it also comes in a roll:

https://www.chewy.com/sticky-paws-furniture-strips/dp/49157


SCRATCHING POSTS

Purchase numerous scratching posts/trees. Our best recommendation is to buy a little bit of everything and see what your cats favor. For instance, our cats are presently obsessed with wave scratcher toys and step-in cat scratchers. Our oldest boy, Felix, is hooked on a tiny cat scratching post he's had since he was a baby.


We have scratching posts in high-traffic areas, including our living room and office. Of course, our cats tend to go wherever we go.

https://www.chewy.com/all-kind-wave-cat-scratcher-toy/dp/201479

https://www.chewy.com/all-kind-step-in-cat-scratcher-toy/dp/201483


NAIL TRIMMING

Trim their nails! Pro tip: add to your schedule to trim your cats' nails every two to three weeks. By trimming nails more frequently, it'll be a habit/routine. With a routine in place, it's likely your cat(s) will have less anxiety. This is also a bonus, as you will be able to keep their nails a tiny bit longer and not cut their nails too short.


FURNITURE CHOICES

Stick with non-fabric or non-leather furniture as much as possible! If this isn't an option, definitely refer to the furniture tape solution. For the most part, we've been leaning towards wood storage benches, wood coffee tables, etc. of which our cats have zero interest in scratching.


PROPER TOYS

Use toys with long strings etc., to protect yourself from getting scratched. Try to also play with your cat for at least fifteen-thirty minutes a day, so they aren't bursting with energy. Most likely, your cat will get very into playing and may show its nails. Here's a safe-for-parents toy we especially enjoy!

https://www.chewy.com/pet-fit-life-2-fish-feather-wand-cat/dp/136706


You can even opt for small mice, but be mindful of hand placement. Watch this video of Nina having a blast with her (current) favorite pink mouse!

Overall, I hope this information helps! Although we can't guarantee your furniture will never get scratched, we hope that this allows you to reconsider declawing. Of course, a few furniture scratches here and there is nothing compared to the pain and suffering of declawing.


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