Declawing Alternatives for Cats

image of a cat with claw protectors.

Cat declawing is possibly one of the most controversial of all animal surgeries. Cats scratch to mark territory and to keep their claws in top condition, but the scratching behavior can challenge the bond between a cat and his owner. Felines, especially young cats, often play rough and scratch their owners or other animals. Scratching behavior also ruins furniture, flooring, draperies, and clothes in many cases.

While declawing is a permanent solution to these problems, it is a surgical procedure requiring anesthesia and removal of the end of the digit, including the nail with the attached bone. National veterinary medical associations state that an owner should consider declawing a cat only after exhausting all other solutions to the scratching behavior, or when scratching increases the risk for spreading infectious disease between the cat and people in the house.

Non-surgical alternatives to declawing include:

  • Providing appealing scratching posts
  • Regular claw care including trimming every 1 to 2 weeks
  • Plastic nail caps

Scratching Posts

A cat owner can purchase commercially made scratching posts or make one at home. Scratching posts use cardboard boxes, lumber, logs, or carpet scraps attached to a sturdy object. Cats like the backing of the carpet best, so put the pretty, soft side on the inside. Any scratching posts should be securely anchored, and the scratching post should be taller than the cat so she can really stretch out when she scratches. Cat owners should use positive reinforcement to encourage the cat to use scratching posts instead of furniture.

Nail Caps

Temporary synthetic nail caps are also an effective alternative to declawing. There are a variety of synthetic nail caps on the market. These colorful caps cover the cat’s natural nail, protecting skin and furniture when she makes scratching motions. Nail caps will grow off, requiring replacement every four to six weeks. Your groomer or veterinary office can apply the first set of nail caps, but it is also possible to apply them at home.

There are surgical alternatives to conventional declawing but these methods also involve removal of tissue from a cat’s toes. These alternatives include laser declawing and tendonectomy. Laser declawing uses laser energy instead of a scalpel or guillotine blade. Tendonectomy removes the tendon that allows cats to control the claw but leaves the claw intact.

Many cats’ scratching problems can be resolved with non-surgical solutions before declawing must be considered. Non-surgical methods carry a very low risk, if any, for complications. Contact your veterinarian for more information about declawing and non-surgical alternatives.

Sources:

"Declawing of Domestic Cats." Declawing of Domestic Cats. American Veterinary Medical Association. Web.

Location

Find us on the map

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

7:00 am

6:00 pm

Tuesday:

7:00 am

6:00 pm

Wednesday:

7:00 am - 12:00 pm

2:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Thursday:

7:00

6:00

Friday:

7:00 am

6:00 pm

Saturday:

8:00 am

2:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Closed

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Thanks for the great peace of mind when I bring Oreo in . . . I know he is always getting the most technically advanced treatment that veterinary medicine has to offer! Thanks so much . . . I trust my best friend in your hands! Thanks so much for all that you have done for us!

    You guys are the best pet clinic in the area--really!"
    Steve & "Oreo"
  • "Dr. Gonzales, thanks for making my life easy when it comes to bringing Hershey in to the see you! Although, I think he may have a crush! I am convinced it's a crush . . . or those treats are doggone divine! But how could any four-legged creature resist? In all seriousness, thanks for providing Hershey and me the finest. most complete pet care available . . . with a lot of love. I have seen a lot of vets in the past and your genuine love and care is truly rare."
    Jennifer & "Hershey"
  • "Thanks to the Drs and professional staff at Pets First Veterinary Center. I feel like you all truly love what you do! Every time I come in to see you, both me and my kitten have had such a pleasant experience. Everyone is so friendly and knowledgeable--I'm really impressed! Ever since I moved to San Antonio you have made me feel so welcome to the area and to your family."
    Jack & "Jill"
  • "Thanks Dr. Gonzales for your loving and professional care for our newest family member! We appreciate you and your staffs' genuine concern for all our pets for the past 10 years. We have always felt like we have been treated as part of the Pets First Veterinary Center family. Its so reassuring to know that we don't have to worry when we leave our dog for medical treatment or a boarding stay. Thank you so much!"
    The Johnson Family & "Magic"
  • "I think the world of Dr. Wright. Not only does she and team at Pets First Veterinary Center provide the best veterinary care possible, but also unmatched personal service and of course lots of love! I trust you with my most precious posessions...and refer all my friends and family to Pets First Veterinary Center.

    Thanks so much to all of you!"
    Maya, "Amor & Abrazo"