Why cats scratch and claw your stuff
By scratching, cats not only stretch their muscles and chip away dead nail husks, but they also look insanely cute using those scratching posts with the ball on top. Due to cats’ instinctive nature to sink their claws into something coarse, some cat moms and dads find themselves frustrated when objects (the new sofa, anyone?) that are not for scratching get, well, shredded. Some opt for extreme measures in order to fix the problem, even going so far as to declaw their animals. But cats in the state of New York are napping peacefully now because the state’s legislature recently passed as a bill a state-wide ban on declawing.
Why declawing isn't the answer
Experts consider the convenience-driven practice of declawing a cat to be a damaging anddangerous surgical procedure wherein the cat’s claws are completely removed. Though some cat lovers assume the procedure is mainly cosmetic, the surgery actually involves removing the last bone in the cat’s paw, along with vital connective tissue that allows the cat to function properly. This is why the procedure is considered highly invasive.
Declawing can create a multitude of long-term complications for cats, including infection, nerve damage, issues walking, lameness, back pain, and even behavioral changes like refusal to use the litter box. Most veterinarians consider the procedure to be equivalent to an amputation in humans, except the cat getsfiveamputations per paw, not just one. The Humane Society describes in more detail the ramifications of undergoing this type of procedure here if you have the stomach to read it.
What New York is doing about declawing
The ban on declawing bill that passed in New York imposes a $1,000 fine on veterinarians who follow through with this procedure for non-medical reasons. Though there are some specific medical circumstances that a cat may have to endure declawing, such as removing nail bed tumors, it is rare. Interestingly, the New York State Veterinary Medical Society has put out statements opposing the ban, saying that the procedure should be allowed for cats with extreme habits or for cat parents whose immune systems are more susceptible to infection by scratches. However, people typically opt for declawing for convenience or aesthetic purposes only, without a proper understanding of the long-term damage and pain the procedure may cause. Once most cat lovers learn more about the procedure, they opt for a less radical solution.
Because declawing is such an invasive surgery for cats, this practice has been forbidden in several countries and its ban is currently being considered in many other U.S. states such as California, Rhode Island, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Some specific cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Denver have also banned declawing. Though many lawmakers encouraged this bill in the state of New York, the final call to sign it into law comes down to Governor Andrew Cuomo. As this bill gets pushed through into law, animal advocates hope that other states and cities will follow suit by passing similar bills.
How to help your cat scratch responsibly
If declawing is out, whatcan you do to reform a dedicated feline scratcher?
Though your cat’s definition of redecorating the couch may not align with yours, scratching shouldn’t be discouraged altogether since it helps cats discard the dead nail and mark their territory. Cats will find a place to carry out their daily routine, and if you direct them to the right spots, they usually catch on. By being consistent and redirecting your cat’s behavior, you can reverse the unwanted destruction of furniture. Redirect your furry friend’s scratching needs with a scratching post.
In our all-inclusive guide to scratching posts, you can find out how to get the cat using a scratching post, even if the cat lives with a disability. For other ideas and further research, check out some tips we put together to help you stop your cat from clawing the sofa.
Early detection and good care after diagnosis are a cat parent’s best defense for ensuring their cat’s longevity and quality of life.