Declawing is a painful, risk-filled procedure that is done only for the convenience of humans. There are only extremely rare instances, when claws are affected by a medical condition, that declawing cats can be considered anything but inhumane.

In the United Kingdom, declawing was outlawed by the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which explicitly prohibits “interference with the sensitive tissues or bone structure of the animal, otherwise than for the purposes of its medical treatment.” California and New York each banned declawing, as did the city of Denver, Colorado. Some veterinary chains like Banfield Pet Hospital have decided not to practice declawing surgery.

“Just say no – they like their toes,” said Tulsa SPCA veterinarian Dr. Megan Buford.

In the kitten room at the Tulsa SPCA, Aiden plays with a toy with his spectacular kitten claws. When kittens are adoptable at the Tulsa SPCA, they have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and made current on parasite prevention – but they will never be declawed.

Cats need their claws because they use them. Yes, they like to scratch. If your cat is scratching your furniture or carpet, buy or make a good scratching post, and train your cat to use it.

Here are reasons to keep your cat’s claws:

Cats need claws for protection
If your cat ever gets outside and doesn’t have claws, he will be defenseless. Cats use their claws to climb trees, which can help them escape from dangerous situations.

Cats need claws for exercise
Scratching is a great form of exercise and cats use their claws for stretching their muscles.

Cats need claws for marking territory
Scratching communicates a cat’s presence with both physical and scent marks. Scratching is an emotional outlet just like any form of communication.

Cats need claws for good health
Declawing is amputating the claw and related bone and muscle tissue. Without their claws, cats often have trouble balancing. Many declawed cats suffer from joint stiffness and arthritis. Because their paws often remain painful from the surgery, they avoid scratching in the use of their litter boxes.

Train your cat to use a scratching post:

  • Try both vertical posts and horizontal scratching pads to find out what your cat prefers – your best bet is to offer one of each.
  • The posts should be located in kitty’s favorite spaces. Cats often scratch when they wake up from a nap so put one near the cat’s sleeping area.
  • Attract your cat to the post using catnip.
  • Spend time near the post encouraging your cat to interact with it. Play with the cat near the post and incorporate it into your play.
  • Reward the cat every time he/she uses the post. Have yummy treats nearby and give one to the cat whenever you see him/her scratching the post.

How to trim a cat’s claws:

  1. Use the right tool with a sharp blade.
  2. Grab a buddy to hold kitty or try to convince her to lie still on a stable surface.
  3. Use your thumb and pointer finger to gently press down on the top and bottom of the paw so the claw extends and quickly but carefully snip off the sharp tip and no more.
  4. Trim just the very tip of the claw. Don’t get too close to the pink part of the nail called “the quick,” where blood vessels and nerve endings lie. Just like the pink part of a human fingernail, the quick is very sensitive; cutting into this area will likely cause bleeding and pain.
  5. Take your time. It’s okay if you can’t get all 10 claws on the first try. There’s always tomorrow.
  6. Give kitty a treat so she remembers how pleasant an experience this was for the next time!

 

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