Forgotten Felines does not condone declawing for any reason, and you shouldn’t either. Other than being painful and considered animal cruelty in many countries, it can cause a bevy of complications. Infection and problem biting are the main problems related to declawing. When you amputate the first digit on a cat’s paw, you leave it open to all sorts of bacteria getting in. A cat can’t relax and kick their paws up after the procedure, so you run this risk with each surgery. The infections can be small and easily treatable, although uncomfortable to the cat, to highly critical – taking several months and hundreds of dollars to fix. Problem biting occurs because you’ve taken away the cat’s main line of defense – their claws. Declawing leaves the cat feeling vulnerable, which is why many start to bite – and they bite hard! Other problems are permanent nerve damage as well as psychological damage – leaving the cat nervous or even aggressive for the duration of their life.
Cats are declawed for the reason that they sometimes scratch – be it people or animals or furniture. In our experience, only a fraction of cats are problem scratchers – and we also have yet to meet the cat who can’t be trained.
I admit though, before I knew HOW to deter problem scratching, I had my fair share of frustrations with a few insistent kitties (yes, Basha-belle, I am talking about you). But now it’s only a temporary problem that’s fairly easy to correct, and it’s been years since my sweet Basha dug her claws into the carpet again.
Here’s a site that provides information about declawing, why cats scratch, and how to curb the unwanted behavior humanely:
What we recommend is buying a scratching post. If your cat prefers to tear at the carpet, purchase one that lays on the floor. If they’re more into clawing the side of the couch, you’ll need a standing fixture. Just remember – not all scratching posts are created equal. Higher costs do often mean higher quality for these items, but cheaper versions will suffice. Tightly woven material and sisal rope are also more preferred than a shag or faux fur. The main thing you’ll want to look for is adequate height (the cheapest, smaller versions are designed for kittens) and a sturdy design. Cats will not want to scratch something that wobbles.
To encourage kitty to scratch the post, sprinkle catnip on it or even a little powdered soup base (check labels for NO onions or garlic first). Cats are very receptive to learned behaviors, so go ahead and give them a demonstration many times throughout the week by scratching it yourself. And such as training them to use the litter box, you can also gently maneuver their paws in a scratching motion on the post. Always train them to use the post in a positive manner or you’ll frighten them away.
If you see kitty going back to their old habits again just gently remove them and place them at their scratching post. You never want to yell at your cat – especially for doing something that comes naturally to them – because it discourages any good behavior. This is why we also never suggest using a spray bottle. You can line undesired areas with clear double-sided tape or even spray a little orange scented air freshener on the area to deter them further.
FOR CATS WHO SCRATCH PEOPLE OR ANIMALS you’ll want to use other tactics, although every cat should have a scratching post. When cats scratch during play, this usually means they were removed from their litter too early (under 12 weeks of age). Not having learned proper playing etiquette, all they’re doing is playing too rough. Despite how young or old they are, train them the exact same way they’d learn from their mom or litter mates. Let out a sharp, high-pitched “Ow!” and walk away from them, ignoring them for 2 whole minutes. Return and repeat – as many times as needed. If they’re playing too rough with another animal in the home, remove them, isolating them to a room for 2 minutes before letting them play again. Just try not to forgot they’re in there!
Please see our Training Tips & Behavior for advice on aggressive scratching.