Declawing Alternatives for Cats

image of a cat with claw protectors.

Cat declawing is possibly one of the most controversial of all animal surgeries. Cats scratch to mark territory and to keep their claws in top condition, but the scratching behavior can challenge the bond between a cat and his owner. Felines, especially young cats, often play rough and scratch their owners or other animals. Scratching behavior also ruins furniture, flooring, draperies, and clothes in many cases.

While declawing is a permanent solution to these problems, it is a surgical procedure requiring anesthesia and removal of the end of the digit, including the nail with the attached bone. National veterinary medical associations state that an owner should consider declawing a cat only after exhausting all other solutions to the scratching behavior, or when scratching increases the risk for spreading infectious disease between the cat and people in the house.

Non-surgical alternatives to declawing include:

  • Providing appealing scratching posts
  • Regular claw care including trimming every 1 to 2 weeks
  • Plastic nail caps

Scratching Posts

A cat owner can purchase commercially made scratching posts or make one at home. Scratching posts use cardboard boxes, lumber, logs, or carpet scraps attached to a sturdy object. Cats like the backing of the carpet best, so put the pretty, soft side on the inside. Any scratching posts should be securely anchored, and the scratching post should be taller than the cat so she can really stretch out when she scratches. Cat owners should use positive reinforcement to encourage the cat to use scratching posts instead of furniture.

Nail Caps

Temporary synthetic nail caps are also an effective alternative to declawing. There are a variety of synthetic nail caps on the market. These colorful caps cover the cat’s natural nail, protecting skin and furniture when she makes scratching motions. Nail caps will grow off, requiring replacement every four to six weeks. Your groomer or veterinary office can apply the first set of nail caps, but it is also possible to apply them at home.

There are surgical alternatives to conventional declawing but these methods also involve removal of tissue from a cat’s toes. These alternatives include laser declawing and tendonectomy. Laser declawing uses laser energy instead of a scalpel or guillotine blade. Tendonectomy removes the tendon that allows cats to control the claw but leaves the claw intact.

Many cats’ scratching problems can be resolved with non-surgical solutions before declawing must be considered. Non-surgical methods carry a very low risk, if any, for complications. Contact your veterinarian for more information about declawing and non-surgical alternatives.

Sources:

"Declawing of Domestic Cats." Declawing of Domestic Cats. American Veterinary Medical Association. Web.



Now Offering Acupuncture for Dogs and Cats!

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Vaccine Clinic Hours

Monday:

9:00 am-11:00 am

3:00 pm-5:00 pm

Tuesday:

9:00 am-11:00 am

3:00 pm-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

9:00 am-11:00 am

3:00 pm-5:00 pm

Thursday:

9:00 am-11:00 am

3:00 pm-5:00 pm

Friday:

9:00 am-11:00 am

3:00 pm-5:00 pm

Saturday:

9:00 am-12:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Office Hours

Monday:

9:00 am-6:00 pm

Tuesday:

9:00 am-6:00 pm

Wednesday:

9:00 am-6:00 pm

Thursday:

9:00 am-6:00 pm

Friday:

9:00 am-6:00 pm

Saturday:

8:00 am-2:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "They have the best people working there. Got good information and care for my dog. Highly recommended place"
    caseyp, Lake Hughes
  • "Everyone was very polite, listened to my concerns and treated my dog very well"
    rayleen & johnw, Lancaster

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

  • Fish

    If you’re thinking of getting a pet fish, you should know that your veterinarian has a lot of good advice about pet ownership. Fish can be very rewarding as pets, and you just may be surprised about how much fish actually interact with their owners. Here’s more valuable information about choosing ...

    Read More
  • Caring for Senior Cats

    Thanks to advancements in veterinary care, today’s cats can live well into their teen years. It is not uncommon for cats to live to be 18 or even older. However, in order for cats to live a long full life, they need proactive veterinary care to stay healthy. As cats age, they are at greater risk for ...

    Read More
  • Feline Stomatitis: Treatments

    Cats rarely display their pain, but cats with feline stomatitis are often the exception. If your cat appears to have mouth pain, is reluctant to eat, doesn't want to groom, is drooling, and doesn't want you to open its mouth, it may be suffering from this debilitating, degenerative oral condition, and ...

    Read More
  • Feline Leukemia Virus: What You Need to Know

    Feline leukemia (FeLV) is a virus that weakens your cat's immune system. Unfortunately, when the immune system does not function properly, your cat may be more likely to develop other diseases, such as cancer and blood disorders. How Cats Contract Feline Leukemia Cats get feline leukemia from other cats. ...

    Read More
  • Family Cats and Pregnant Women: Take Measures to Prevent Toxoplasmosis Infection

    Nothing must spoil the joys of becoming a new parent. Not even your pets. But family cats with normal, every day habits can pose a risk to expectant women. Women's immune systems can be disturbed by a parasite carried in fecal matter. If you're the primary caretaker of your family's feline friend it ...

    Read More
  • Create an Environment Your Cat Will Love

    The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery confirms that feline emotional wellbeing, behavior and physical health are a result of how comfortable they are in their environment. Understanding how our cats interact with their environment can help us create a space for owners and cats to mutually thrive ...

    Read More
  • Catnip: Why Cats Love It

    Few things stimulate a cat's pleasure faster than catnip. Exposure to this simple herb can reveal a new side to their feline personality. Many cats will go crazy at the smell of this plant. Catnip has a reputation of being a feline drug and many cat owners wonder if it is safe to give it to their pet. ...

    Read More
  • Zoonosis

    Zoonosis refers to diseases that can be transmitted to humans from animals. In particular, they occur when an infected animal passes on bacteria, parasites, fungi or viruses to humans through scratches, saliva, feces and urine. Vectors (e.g., organisms like fleas and ticks) can also carry zoonotic diseases ...

    Read More
  • Sugar Gliders

    Thinking of getting a sugar glider? These tiny marsupials are energetic and friendly, making them popular choices as pets. Though they weigh less than a half-pound, they're more closely related to kangaroos than they are flying squirrels. If you think a sugar glider would make an ideal pet for your family, ...

    Read More
  • Epilepsy

    Epilepsy (often referred to as a seizure disorder) is a chronic neurological condition characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures. It is commonly controlled with medication, although surgical methods are used as well. Epileptic seizures are classified both by their patterns of activity in the brain ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles