Health Topics

Declawing Alternatives

We do not offer declaw surgery at this practice. Please read below or give us a call for some helpful suggestions if your cat is demonstrating unwanted scratching.

Why Cats Have Claws:

Cat claws serve several functions. Main uses include hunting, marking territory, and defense from other cats and animals. Additionally, cats scratch to condition the claws by removing aged cuticle as well as to help stretch their limbs. Sometimes cats scratch in times of stress and anxiety, often when resources such as food are threatened or restricted.

Claws are a physically, socially, and emotionally vital part of every cat. Scratching, for a cat, is not only a natural act, but a necessary one as well.

What Does “Declawing” Mean?

A declaw is an elective procedure called an onychectomy or a surgical amputation of all or part of a cat’s third phalanges (toe bones) and the attached claws. If not enough of the phalanx is removed the claw may occasionally re-grow. Studies have shown declawed cats may be prone to arthritis later in life.

Unwanted Scratching & Prevention

Make the couch an unattractive place for scratching. Pet owners can use double sided tape on the surfaces to deter scratching. Other materials such as plastic wrap, foil, and citrus-scented spray may also prove beneficial. Couches made of microfiber material also appear less desirable to cats.

Scratching Posts 101:

  • Encourage the use of scratching posts by placing them in areas your cat likes to scratch.
  • Toys, catnip and sprays may help attract cats to the posts.
  • Pheromones such as “Feliway” may also help if your cat scratches excessively due to stress.
  • The placement of scratchers is very important. Cats often stretch or scratch when they wake up so consider placing one near where your cat sleeps.
  • Scratchers come in multiple styles and textures. Some examples include posts or pads with sisal rope, rough fabric and/or cardboard. Scratchers can be vertical or horizontal and there are even varieties that blend into your home décor.
  • Trim nails regularly. Habitual nail trimming will reduce harm to your household items. Proper feline nail trimmers should be used to prevent splintering of the claws. We are happy to provide you with a demonstration at the clinic or can provide this service with a quick 15-minute appointment.

For more information, we recommend this brochure developed by the American Association of Feline Practitioners: