WHY NOT DECLAW?
Declawing isn’t a permanent nail-trimming. The vets actually amputate the end joints of their paws! Just imagine what it would be like for you if you lost the last joints on all of your fingers. Not a pleasant thought, hm? It is very painful and can lead to emotional, behavioural, and physical complications. The cats, unable to lean forward with their missing “toes”, become off-balance and lean back on their hind quarters, which can lead to muscular atrophy in the front legs. And think of all the other things a cat does. They climb trees, jump many feet into the air…and use the claws for protection. Even if your cat is an “indoor cat”, what if he slips outside one day while your not paying attention? Without their claws, cats stress out. (And this, be assured, can lead to urinating and spraying all over the house, as well as definsiveness and biting, since now the cat has no claws.) It is also painful for them to use the litterbox, and doing so can even cause infection at first!
Some European countries have ruled this inhumane act as illegal. Do your cat a favor, and don’t declaw!
Now, your cat won’t stop scratching completely; of course not! It’s in a cat’s nature; it sharpens their claws and lets them use certain muscles in their legs. But you CAN get them to stop tearing up the furniture if you offer them an alternative, such as a scratching post covered in carpet. A kitty condo, available at most pet stores, should also work. To get them to scratch on these, you can play with the cat over there (so that their claws will inevitably sink into it), rub catnip on it, or place it by their food or place to sleep. A smaller, more discreet version can be found at Petsmart. It’s not quite a scratching post…you buy a small plastic “tablet”, almost, and the separate cardboard fillings, for bout $10. It comes with catnip to put in the cardboard, to make it more inviting for the cats. Once they have clawed the living daylights out of a cardboard pad, you can simply buy a replacement pad, without replacing the whole thing! These are only about a foot long and maybe 6 inches wide, so they are small and can be placed throughout the house.
One alternative to declawing is simply trimming the nails, like you would trim your own fingernails. To do this, squeeze the cat’s paw pad (gently!) and their claws should slide out. See the little pink part of the claw? That’s called the quick, and you should never cut it! This is painful and causes bleeding. Don’t trim too close to the quick, either, because if the claw cracks slightly for some reason, this can also cause pain and bleeding. Some people use regular human nailclippers, most use claw clippers you can buy at the pet store (or likely your local Target or WalMart), and some even use PediPaws. PediPaws, unlike clippers, grinds down your cat or dog’s claws painlessly, and rounds them off. I personally have never tried this, but PediPaws has a mixed reaction. If you’re willing to spend about $30 on it, you can go ahead and try, but it may be safer to stick to the conventional claw clippers.
Also, it may take two people to trim your cat’s claws; one to restrain the cat, and another to do the clipping. Don’t expect to get all the nails done at once; do one paw at a time, and let the cat roam around the room in between. Eventually, the cat will stop struggling, but it may take quite a few “manicure” sessions before that happens.
If you have an indoor cat, you can place lightweight vinyl caps over the cat’s claws. One brand is called SoftPaws (there are actually doggy versions too, by the way, to prevent your floor and whatever else from being scratched up). They come in an assortment of colors. Opt for plain white, or go nuts and use two-color SoftPaws, or use combinations of colors! (There are even more than the picture on the left shows; it’s somewhat outdated.) There are different sizes for different kitties, from kitten-sized to specific adult sizes!