A normal cat behavior that serves many purposes for cats but that can be very unnerving to their owners is scratching. Scratching can destroy furniture, cause personal injury to the owner, family, and friends. The damage and injuries received may cause the cat’s owner to feel something needs to be done, and quick. The only option that the owner may see is declawing their cat. Scratching can destroy furniture, and can cause personal injury to the owner, family, and friends. The damage and injuries received may cause the cat’s owner to feel something needs to be done, and quick. The only option that the owner may see is declawing their cat.
Understand Why Your Cat Scratches
Scratching serves numerous purposes for cats. It helps them to condition their claws, serves as a way for them to stretch, removes tattered and damaged surface claws, and provides a scent and visual way or marking their area. It can also be a way for them to relieve the boredom of being an indoor kitty. Your cat is built a little differently than most mammals. Most mammals walk on the soles of their feet or paws, but cats walk on their toes. A cat’s body structure is constructed to include every part of their body, including their back, shoulder, paw, leg joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. Each of these parts plays an important role in supporting and distributing your cat's weight across its toes. Every activity that your cat does, from walking to running to climbing, incorporates your cat's claws. By using her claws, your cat is able to maintain its balance during each of these activities. Through digging their claws into a surface and pulling back against it, a cat is able to stretch its legs and shoulders, and back, as well as her paws. It's similar to isometric exercising that we do. Stretching is the only way that a cat has to exercise, stretch, and tone their muscles in their back and shoulders.
What Declawing Does to Your Cat
When we remove a cat's claws, our cats' feet meet the ground at an abnormal angle. This results in the same back pain that we feel when we wear the wrong shoes. Many feel that a cat's claw is similar to our nails, but they are actually a part of the last bone of a cat's toe. The only way to declawed a cat is to amputate this bone up to its joint, known as the distal phalanx. So when a cat is declawed, they are having bone, nerve, joint capsule, collateral ligaments, and the extensor and flexor tendons amputated in each of their ten toes. (Imagine getting the tips of each of your ten fingers amputated.) Declawing removes a cat's natural defenses and is in some countries considered so inhumane it is outlawed.
Complications with Declawing
There are several complications that may come along with amputating your cat's claws. They range from agonizing pain, impairment to the radial nerve, hemorrhage, bone chips that prevent healing, even possible painful regrowth of a deformed claw inside the paw that is not visibly seen, and chronic back and joint pain as the shoulder, leg and back muscles weaken. (see The Truth About Declawing.)
More Humane Alternatives to Declawing
There are other options to declawing. One option is nail caps. Nail caps are applied over your cat's nails and unless the owner tells someone they are there, chances are no one will know that your cat has them on. The nail caps fit over your cat's nails and are applied with non-toxic and safe adhesives. Nail caps still allow your cat to scratch without the damage. Purchasing a scratching post is another option. When purchasing a scratching post, just be sure that it is the right height, material, and stability for your cat.