Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Hyde Park Cats is against the practice of declawing. We do not declaw our cats, and we don't want our adopters to do it either.

The main reason we are against declawing is because it means amputating the last joint of the toes of the cat. Their claws are fused to their toes and cannot be removed without cutting off the last joint of their toes. This is not only incredibly painful but also can lead to many behavior and health problems.

We are also against the practice of tendonectomy. An alternative surgical procedure, deep digital flexor tendonectomy, involves severing the tendon attached to the end toe digit but maintaining the claw in the sheath. The cat is no longer able to extend the claws. The technique limits the cat's ability to damage surfaces when scratching as long as the claws are kept trimmed. It is less painful (cats recover within 2 days) and it has minimal postoperative risks. However, ongoing claw trimming is a must or the cat can use its claws again to some degree and there is a risk of ingrowth into the paw pads. Some veterinarians have reported joint fusion and arthritis problems. The technique has not been favored by most veterinarians mainly because of the above negative factors and the potential of the client's dissatisfaction and ultimate desire for declawing.

An informative page on declawing: written by the veterinarian who developed Soft Claws (the nail covering alternative).

Declawing is not like a manicure. It is serious surgery. Your cat's claw is not a toenail. It is actually closely adhered to the bone. So closely adhered that to remove the claw, the last bone of your the cat's claw has to be removed. Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat's "toes". When you envision that, it becomes clear why declawing is not a humane act. It is a painful surgery, with a painful recovery period. And remember that during the time of recuperation from the surgery your cat would still have to use its feet to walk, jump, and scratch in its litter box regardless of the pain it is experiencing. Wheelchairs and bedpans are not an option for a cat.

Your cat's body is perfectly designed to give it the grace, agility and beauty that is unique to felines. Its claws are an important part of this design. Amputating the important part of their anatomy that contains the claws drastically alters the conformation of their feet. The cat is also deprived of its primary means of defense, leaving it prey to predators if it ever escapes to the outdoors.

You can also read this article.

There are MANY ways to minimize a cat's scratching on furniture, etc. These include behavior modification, clipping your cats nails, providing suitable surfaces for scratching, etc. Our volunteers are happy to talk to adopters about these issues.

Many shelters have cats who are already declawed. If you know in your heart you only want a cat who has no claws, please do not adopt a cat and have it declawed. Adopt a homeless declawed cat from a shelter or rescue.

FAQ's about declawing and scratching

1. Why do cats scratch?
Cats scratch because it is a way of marking their territory, exercising their front limbs and because it gives them pleasure.

2. Why do cats scratch the furniture?
Your furniture feels nice, and it is there. It is tall enough to give the cat a good stretch, and it has nice resistance. It is what is available in the cat's home. But if you provide the cat with its OWN furniture that also performs these functions, the cat will not need YOUR furniture.

3. What can I do to keep my furnishings intact?
You can train your cat to use a scratching post or scratching rug and trim the front claws (if you like).

Also, you can get Soft Paws. Soft Paws are lightweight vinyl nail caps that you glue on the cat's front claws. They're great for households with small children and are extremely useful for people who are away from home all day and can't exercise the watchfulness necessary to train a cat to use a scratching post. Soft Paws® are easy to apply and last about four to six weeks. You can find Soft Paws® on the web by clicking here or call 1-800-989-2542.

4. How do I get my cat to use a scratching post?
Remember that an important part of scratching is the cat's desire to mark a territory, so a scratching post should be in an area that's used by the family, not hidden in a back corner. After a time you can move the post away to the periphery of the room, but you'll need to do this gradually.

Some cats like to scratch horizontally and some like to scratch vertically. Observe your cat and buy accordingly. Corrugated-cardboard scratchers are widely available and cheap. Many cats like sisal rugs. Most cats love to have a piece of furniture that is theirs. This should include an area to scratch. Any pet store will have a variety of cat furnishings with scratching areas.

Initially, put the post where your cat goes to scratch. This may be by a sofa, a chair or wherever Kitty has chosen as her territiory, and you may need more than one post to cover her favorite spots. Security is a major factor in making the post appealing to your cat. If it topples or shakes, she won't use it. It should either be secured to the floor or have a base wide enough and heavy enough to keep it stable.

Encourage Kitty to use her post with clever enticements. Feed her and play with her by the post. Rub dried catnip leaves or powder into it. Make all the asssociations with the post pleasurable. Reward her with a favorite treat when she uses it. Have her chase a string or a toy around the post or attach toys to it, which will result in her digging her claws into it. Eventually she will learn to love it and regard it as her own. It's also a good idea to put a post where Kitty sleeps. Cats like to scratch when they awaken, especially in the morning and the middle of the night. If space permits, a scratching post in every room of the house is a cat's delight. The most important place is the area of the house in which you and Kitty spend the most time. I have many sisal posts in my house, yet often in the morning my cats line up to use the one in the living room.

If at first Kitty is reluctant to give up her old scratching areas, there are means you can use to discourage her. Covering the area with aluminum foil or double-sided tape is a great deterrent. These surfaces don't have a texture that feels good to scratch.

Remember too that Kitty has marked her favorite spots with her scent as well as her claws. You may need to remove her scent from the areas you want to distract her away from. You will find pet odor removers in pet stores and many supermarkets as well.

Cats have an aversion to citrus odors. Use lemon-scented sprays or a potpourri of lemon and orange peels to make her former scratching sites less agreeable to her.

If Kitty still persists in scratching the furniture, try squirting her with a water gun or a spray bottle set on stream. Another option is a loud whistle or other noise-maker. You must employ these deterrents while she is scratching for them to be effective. The point is to establish an aversion to the spot you don't want her to scratch.

5. How do I trim my cat's claws?
It does not have to be a major procedure to trim your cat's claws, but every cat is different. Some cats won't care at all. Other cats may need some persuasion. If you have never cut your cat's nails before, start by just holding her paw. See if she is bothered. Then make one nail come out. Still not bothered? Get your cat used to the feeling before actually cutting.

If you are adopting a cat for the first time, our volunteers can show you how to do this procedure. Most of us do it all the time.

Gently hold Kitty's paw in one hand and with your thumb on top of the paw and forefinger on the pad gently squeeze your thumb and finger together. This will push the claw clear of the fur so it can easily be seen. You will notice that the inside of the claw is pink near its base. This is living tissue that you do not want to cut. Trim only the clear tip of the nail. Do not clip the area where pink tissue is visible nor the slightly opaque region that outlines the pink tissue. This will avoid cutting into areas that would be painful or bleed. The desired effect is simply to blunt the claw tip.

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