If your cat is clawing apart your furniture or causing damage to the carpet, having him or her declawed is an option. However, since there are potential side effects of declawing--like arthritis and infections--most vets recommend trying other methods of dealing with your cat's claws before you resort to declawing. Here are two strategies you can try over the coming weeks. If one works, you may not need to make that surgical declawing appointment after all.
Claw Guards/Claw Caps
There are several companies that make claw guards or claw caps. Basically, these are tiny little sleeves of silicone material that slip over your cat's claws. Usually, they are some bright color like pink or green so you can quickly look and tell if your cat has them on. They essentially make the cat's claw dull so that when he or she scratches, no damage is caused. Look for the claw guards at pet stores and online.
To put the claw guards on your kitty, press on the paw gently to reveal the nails. Then, slide the guards into place one at a time. Observe your cat over the next few weeks. When you notice a guard missing, replace it with a new one. (They typically fall off after about 2 weeks as your cat's claws grow out.)
Claw guards work for many pet owners, but they may not work well for you if:
- Your cat does not like you handling her paws to put them on
- Your cat figures out how to chew them off
Redirecting the Scratching
Another strategy to try is redirecting where your cat scratches. Basically, you will make your cat's current scratching areas unappealing, while at the same time providing another scratching area for him. Start by investing in a scratching post made from jute; cats love scratching this rough material. Then, focus on each of your cat's scratching areas. Here are some ways to make your cat avoid scratching them:
- Spray them with an anti-scratching spray from the pet store
- Wrap them in tin foil (this works well on ledges, shelves, and window sills)
- Shake some hot pepper flakes on them
Observe your cat over the next couple of weeks. With any luck, he or she will start scratching on the post rather than on the other areas.
If these strategies do not work, then perhaps it is time to talk to your vet about if you should declaw your cat.