Ask the SPCA: Is declawing really that bad for cats? - BC SPCA
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Ask the SPCA: Is declawing really that bad for cats?

February 19, 2019

My cat has scratched his way through two couches so far. Is declawing really that bad?

In a word: yes! The BC SPCA succeeded in prompting the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia (CVBC) to ban declawing because of the suffering caused by this painful and unnecessary surgical procedure.

From stretching to climbing to playing, cats need their claws to engage in normal behaviour and movement. When they are declawed, however, not only are their nails removed, but some of the bones of their toes as well – comparable to amputating all of a human’s fingers at the last knuckle. Studies show that declawed cats are at higher risk for biting and aggression, are more likely to have trouble using the litter box and have a significantly increased chance of back pain.

Cat playing with toy on perch

In a recent – and rather disturbing – discovery, researchers found that 63 per cent of declawed cats experienced abnormal bone growth long-term where their toes had been cut, a condition which can cause severe pain.

Fortunately, humane alternatives to declawing are readily available. Providing your cat with several scratching posts, for instance, will help fulfill his instinctive need to scratch while vastly reducing the damage he does to your furniture.

Cat using scratching post and playing

  • Place a scratching post in a prominent spot in your house – near the front door or close to where your family spends the most time together. Cats like to scratch in very visible areas. Once your cat is using the scratching post regularly, you can slowly move it to a more discrete location.
  • Provide different textures for your cat to scratch. Cats prefer materials they can really sink their claws into. He might enjoy scratching posts made from carpet, sisal rope, corrugated cardboard or wood – or some combination of these.
  • Get a scratching post at least as tall or long as your cat fully stretched out. Cats like to scratch in different directions – horizontally and vertically.
  • Make sure the scratching post is sturdy. Cats are less likely to scratch ones that wobble too much or slide along the floor.
  • Reward your cat with treats, petting or praise for using the scratching post.

Get more information on caring for cats.

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