Oct 01, 2018 06:11AM
By Louisa Asseo
Dr. Louisa Asseo, owner of Oasis Veterinary Hospital, 6635 Alhambra Ave, Suite 100, 925.954.8087
New Studies about Declawing
A few months ago, we discussed the impact that cats can have on outdoor wildlife. Ideally, cats should be housed indoors for both their safety and the safety of songbirds in particular. But what happens when an indoor cat starts scratching the furniture?
Scratching is a normal and natural behavior for cats. In addition to allowing them to shed the cuticles from their nails and sharpen their nails, it allows them to stretch and leave scent marks detectable to cats but not people. For indoor cats, we must provide appropriate scratching surfaces for them.
Vertical scratching posts and cat trees are ideal. Cat trees are also ideal, as they provide high places for the cat to perch on. What if your cat will not use appropriate scratching posts? Try a variety of surfaces. Most cats prefer a carpeted surface, but if this is not successful, try cardboard, sisal rope, or natural wood. Place these cat posts near where your cat tends to scratch and cover the inappropriate item until he or she learns to use the appropriate surface.
Trim your cats’ nails regularly to avoid damage to your furniture should they choose to stretch in other places of your house. Plastic caps, called Soft Paws can be glued onto the surface of the nail also. These have to be inspected regularly and replaced as the cuticle sheds normally and removes the plastic cap.
Another method that deserves attention is declawing. Most of us are familiar with this procedure in theory. But have you thought about the actual procedure? This is akin to removing the tips of your digits past your nail beds. And once we do this to our cats, we then ask then to walk and jump on these painful digits. Even with proactive and comprehensive pain control, these cats can suffer from chronic pain.
Declawing is outlawed in many countries, including Australia, United Kingdom, Brazil, Austria, and most European countries. Some countries, such as Sweden, Finland, Germany, and Switzerland, even consider this procedure an act of animal cruelty. In the United States, we are slower to change this practice. In 2017, the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) amended their position statement towards declawing to state that they strongly oppose declawing in all cases where a medical necessity cannot be proven. Many studies have been done in recent years proving the association between declawing and chronic pain in cats. A recent study in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery documented an increase in back pain associated with declawing. It also documented that unwanted behaviors, liking biting without provocation and inappropriate urination and defecation, were significantly higher in declawed cats than in cats with claws intact.