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Expert Q&A

I know that some cat owners declaw their cats in hopes of preventing damage to furniture, rugs and other objects. Is it true that declawing can have the opposite effect on such belongings?

I know that some cat owners declaw their cats in hopes of preventing damage to furniture, rugs and other objects. Is it true that declawing can have the opposite effect on such belongings?

BY: The Daily Cat experts

Cat declawing, according to the Humane Society of the United States, is sadly comparable to a human having each finger cut off at the last knuckle. Declawing is not a simple procedure. Margaret Bonham, author of Bring Me Home! Cats Make Great Pets, says short-term risks include infection, nail regrowth and hemorrhaging. The Humane Society adds that long-term problems may include lasting back pain for your cat, nerve damage, bone spurs and behavioral problems. Your question refers to the latter.

Both Bonham and the Humane Society mention that declawed cats have exhibited an increased tendency to bite. My guess is that’s because the cat doesn’t retain the sense of security offered by its claws. Chronic pain could also impact behavior. Inappropriate elimination (i.e., when a cat doesn’t use its litter box) is another documented possible side effect. This bad habit could then hurt the objects you mention, such as your furniture and rugs.

I’ve lived with many cats over the years and have never resorted to declawing them. Regular nail-trimming works wonders, as does providing a scratching post that will attract your pet. You may have to spend a little time playing with your cat at the post, applying catnip and utilizing other tactics to train your cat to use the post often.

Bonham reports it’s illegal in some countries to declaw cats, unless the procedure is necessary for medical reasons. She believes declawing should only be used as a last resort, and I agree.


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