More and more people are realizing that declawing cats is painful and totally unnecessary.
Just last month, Clays Mill Veterinary Clinic in Lexington, Kentucky, made an announcement that it would no longer offer declawing.
“After careful consideration and much soul-searching, we have decided to stop declawing cats,” the clinic wrote. “We know that even under the best of circumstances, a declaw is a major and painful surgery … It is an amputation of the end of the cat’s ‘finger,’ not just the removal of the claw itself. And even when performed perfectly, can have lifelong complications.”
Because of these realizations, cities and states have been passing laws against declawing over the past few years. As the world becomes more claw-friendly, people are more interested in other ways of saving their furniture from the destructive scratching.
“We’d already been very strongly discouraging it before we outright stopped doing it,” Dr. Melanie Blair, a veterinarian who manages the clinic, told The Dodo. “Once people understood what it was (an amputation) and learned good ways to keep their cat from tearing up things, they are very receptive.”
The clinic has some suggestions for how to keep your cat — and furniture — happy. Here are some tips to keep your healthily-clawed cat from totally destroying your house:
1. If your cat has already selected a piece of furniture for scratching, cover it with a sheet, aluminum foil or even double-sided tape. This will help them learn that their “scratching post” is actually something you use for other purposes.
2. But you can’t just cover the furniture. You need to provide alternatives. Put real scratching posts near the same area as where your cat was scratching before, if possible.
3. Make sure the scratching posts are sturdy — heavy and wide so they don’t tip over.
4. Horizontal scratching surfaces also work. Some even come in a chaise longue shape.
5. Make sure the scratching posts and surfaces are satisfying for your cat. Cats like things they can tear up, so that they can see the results of their labor.
6. Cats have scent glands between their toes, so they also scratch to leave their smell. If you put Feliway on your furniture, it can make cats think they’ve already marked the area.
7. As your cat is getting used to not scratching your furniture, you can keep him out of the room he’s been destroying, especially when you’re not there to coach him to scratch appropriate things.
8. Ask your vet for a quick tutorial about how to trim your cat’s claws, so they aren’t quite so destructive.
9. If nothing else is working, try “Soft Paws,” little rubber — often colorful — covers for cat claws.
And don’t be discouraged if your cat doesn’t get excited about the scratching alternatives at first. You can help teach him to like it.
“If your cat can’t stop scratching, teach him/her where and what to scratch instead,” Dr. Rachel Barrack, a veterinarian at Animal Acupuncture in New York City, told The Dodo. “Teaching your cat a variety of surfaces and materials that are OK to scratch will help them with the ‘rights and wrongs,’ especially when it comes to your furniture.”
Barrack says that we should remember that cats scratch because it is a form of exercise, so they’re going to do it for their own good. “Show them by sitting on the ground and encourage your cat that they are allowed to scratch this post — even showing them with your hands … Don’t force the cat to like it, but try personalizing the post to your cat’s taste.”
With a little encouragement, you’ll have your furniture back in no time.