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Cruel To Be Kind - Declawing Your Cat
Cats are wonderful, they have great personalities, they’re loving, playful, and loyal. They also have sharp claws that can ruin furniture and inflict some serious scratches! This places cat owners in quite a predicament. No cat-lover wants to see their precious puss hurt or maltreated in any way. However, they would also like to keep their couch looking like a couch rather than a battered piñata. What are we to do?
Scratching is a cat’s natural behavior. Every time they scratch, they release a pheromone that lets other cats know that this is their territory. Humans can’t detect the scent, of course. Cats love to scratch, and they will continue to do so even if you declaw them. But, you don’t have to get your cat declawed. You could purchase a scratching post and entice your kitty to exercise with that by sprinkling a bit of catnip on the post. Sisal mats and other special kitty contraptions are available to give your cat an alternative to your furniture; however, it will take some training. You’ve got to teach your cat to use those things rather than the easy chair. A quick squirt with a spray bottle should help them get the picture.
Clipping your cat’s claws is also a solution, though temporary, as they will grow back. Be sure you get instructions from your vet on how to properly clip a cat’s nails.
Going With Surgery
Don’t feel like you are copping out by getting your cat declawed. You’re not being a mean and nasty cat owner. You love your cat, and you’ll love it more when it’s not shredding your favorite ottoman.
Most professionals recommend you declaw your cat before 2 years of age. Older cats take longer to heal. It is also advisable to get your cat declawed during the same time he/she gets neutered/spayed; they’ll only go under anesthesia once. It is also only necessary to declaw the front paws. The back feet are rarely used to scratch, but they are very valuable to a cat should they find themselves lost outside!
The surgery itself, when done properly (ask your vet which method they use!!), consists of removing the distal phalanx, the last tiny digit in a cat’s paw that holds the claw. Cats don’t put weight on the distal phalanx, so you don’t have to worry about any changes in walking or normal usage of the foot. Also, when done by a skilled veterinarian, cats should recover fully from the operation in about 2 weeks, and they shouldn’t have any problems with infection or nerve damage, either. Pain medication, in the form of a skin patch, can bring your cat relief for a number of days. Remember to replace litter with shredded newspaper so the litter doesn’t get into the incisions.
The best part about declawing your cat is that now they can have the “run of the house”. That is, they can scratch to their hearts content, leaving their “scent” on all their territory. They will also be free to “massage” their owner, (a sign of affection from when they were kittens; they would massage their mother’s stomach to encourage milk flow) without the painful protesting.
It's Up To You
As long as you are going to love your cat for its lifetime, whether or not you choose to declaw it should be your decision. Don’t get rid of your cat because it claws your furniture- chances are your cat would gladly give up their claws just to stay with you and be your loving best friend.