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Ask a Vet:
I’ve been considering declawing my cat. Are there other options?

The first thing to try is behavior modification at home. You can do this in several ways. Start by acquiring a scratching post so there is a “safe place” for your kitty to file his/her nails down to prevent overgrowth. I prefer the flat cardboard scratching post because you can add cat nip to the holes in the cardboard to entice your pet to use it. Stay away from scratching posts made of cloth or carpet; it can sometimes be confusing for your kitty if you have carpet around your house and to know which spot is ok to scratch. You must also try to be consistent about correcting the behavior so that your pet realizes that it should not scratch the couch. Using a can full of coins and shaking it loudly or even using a water gun can help deter the behavior.

Another option is to try using Soft Paws. These are plastic covers that go over each nail. You can purchase Soft Paws from any local pet store and they can be a good non-surgical option to declawing. You apply each cap to a recently trimmed nail with a drop of the enclosed super glue. Each cap can last for 4-6 weeks. Occasionally some come off a little sooner than others but you can simply reapply them after they come off.

Declawing is not a routine or necessary part of preventative health care for kittens. Trimming nails, which is quick and easy, is a regular part of caring for indoor cats as well as providing scratching surfaces (please see the article The Importance of Cat Claws for more information). Many people are surprised to learn that removal of the claws requires removal of bone at the last joint and is actually a partial toe amputation, equivalent to removal of a finger at the last knuckle. There are well-studied adverse effects from this procedure such as chronic pain, arthritis, nerve pain, tendency to bite and urinating outside the litter box. At three months of age this is the perfect time to start teaching your kitten how you prefer him to use, or not use, his claws.

I hope I was able to answer all your questions concerning the declawing procedure. Please let me know if you have any other questions or if you would like to schedule a consultation. I look forward to meeting you and your pet!

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