Please, take this as a given. Declawing is not an acceptable option for the beautiful, loving animal that depends on you. The reasons to avoid declawing are compelling, for you as well as for your cat. Declawing is literally maiming a cat, a mistake that can lead to physical, emotional, and behavioral complications.
It is erroneous to think that declawing a cat is a trivial procedure similar to trimming fingernails. A cat’s claws are a vital part of her anatomy, essential to balance, mobility, and survival. Declawing is an irreversible surgical procedure that involves amputating a cat’s toes up to the first joint. It is a very painful surgery with a strong potential for secondary complications. On rare occasions, declawing may lead to secondary contracture of the tendons. This makes it uncomfortable for the cat to walk.
Since the last joints of her front paws are missing, she compensates by placing more of her weight on her hindquarters, causing her to be out of balance. This shift of weight to the back feet may lead to atrophy of the muscles of her front limbs and strain injuries to the back ones. Being out of balance is extremely distressing to a cat, whose very life is about balance. You’ve observed cats climbing trees, teetering perilously on a single branch, leaping incredible heights to land on a pre-selected spot, or threading in and out of complex arrangements of knickknacks without disturbing a single ornament: unless, of course, they choose to do so. These are acts of balance and part of a cat’s basic heritage. In addition to being an intrinsic part of a cat’s normal conformation, her front claws are her primary defense.
Once declawed, there is no replacement or regrowth of the claws. You may think, «My cat never goes outside. But what if your cat accidentally gets outside and you can’t find her? She is now defenseless in a potentially hostile environment. Deprived of her front claws, a cat may become insecure and distressed. I can assure you that if your kitty becomes emotionally distressed, you will too. A cat’s display of distress tends to take such forms as urinating on your favorite rug or spraying your antique armoire.
Some cats develop an aversion to their litter box because of the pain associated with scratching in the litter after a declawing procedure. If your kitty doesn’t go in the box, she will find a more comfortable place to do her business. Often times, these habits are hard to break. One more compelling reason not to declaw: Some European countries have ruled declawing illegal! Now it’s time to lighten things up and provide you with some solutions. Understanding the situation is half the battle.
You and your cat are about to teach each other some valuable lessons. This isn’t exactly a revelation, since you probably have the evidence everywhere — in the tattered corners of your sofa, the shredded drapes, and your frayed nerves. Though your kitty’s natural propensity for scratching may not be big news, it is a fact that you’ll need to take into account if you’re going to make any headway in winning the battle to keep her from scratching in places you consider undesirable. Cats need scratching posts in every area of the home. Cats may scratch if there is no post available. What you can do is stop her from scratching those items you value and want to keep in their relatively pristine state. Translate this bit of wisdom to your dealings with cats, and you’ll avoid a good deal of futility and frustration.
You can’t make a cat do anything she doesn’t want to do. And getting her to stop doing something she enjoys is just about as difficult. Therefore, you have to think smart and re-channel her desires. A Word About Punishment — Don’t do it! Cats don’t understand physical punishment. In addition to it being wrong to hit your cat, punishment simply doesn’t work and is likely to make your situation worse. Clever though your kitty is about many things, she won’t understand that you’re punishing her for scratching the couch. She will only compute that sometimes she is treated badly. This may make her insecure and stimulate her to scratch more or develop other undesirable behavior problems. Eventually, you will break the trust and security that is the basis for your cat’s relationship with you, and you will find it very difficult to catch her for any reason at all. Cats have excellent memories and hold serious grudges. Lesson 3: Why Do Cats Scratch? More to the point, why do they scratch your prized possessions? Understanding your cat’s need to scratch is more than just an act of charitability on your part.