catDoes your kitty tear up your furniture or lash out at you with her claws? Before you consider declawing your cat, learn the facts about what the procedure actually entails. There may be more kinder alternatives than you realize.

What is declawing?

The Humane Society of the United States has this to say about declawing: “Too often, people think that declawing is a simple surgery that removes a cat’s nails—the equivalent of having your fingernails trimmed. Sadly, this is far from the truth. Declawing traditionally involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe. If performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle.”

What are the side effects?

Declawing can cause more problems than it solves. The procedure can result in chronic pain in the paw caused by bone spurs. It also makes your kitty less likely to use the litter box due to pain when scratching. Since removing the bones causes the paw to meet the ground in an unnatural stance, cats can develop back pain and soreness similar to wearing ill-fitting shoes.

Furthermore, cats without claws are unable to defend themselves, resorting to biting, bunny-kicking, and more violent means of protection when they feel threatened.

Why do cats scratch?

Understanding why your kitty scratches is the first step in correcting it. Scratching is a natural and necessary behavior for cats. It helps them stretch their muscles and remove the dead outer coating of their claws. Contrary to what some may believe, cats do not scratch furniture to be vindictive or seek revenge.

However, scolding your cat for scratching without offering proper alternatives can cause your kitty to crave the negative attention. Often times, what humans view as a destructive behavior can be remedied by a few small changes around the house.

What can you do instead?

Need more advice on how to keep your kitty from scratching? Ask your pet sitter about nail trimming and training aids today!

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by psyberartist Alex on flickr