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declawing my cat?

i love my kitteh and would never want to intentionally hurt her, but i'm not sure she feels the same about me.  she's almost a year old and is still extremely playful, but has a tendency to attack my ankles thinking they're toys.  her claws hurt, and they're hurting the couch despite buying her one of those scratching boxes.

i feel like it's a terrible thing to declaw her, but it also seems necessary. thoughts? i don't want to be a terrible person, but i also don't want her to turn our couch into a pile of thread. any input is appreciated.

My cat clawed the couch, so I got some sticky-on-one-side & slick-on-the-other strips and put them on the couch corners.  He stopped scratching.

You could also carry around a water bottle or something with you to spray her when she goes into ankle attack mode.

You might also pay with her more.  Maybe she's missing physical activity.

Declawing would definitely hurt her.


Removing the first joint of all your cat's toes (which is what declawing is) will create more problems than it solves. Her feet will be ultrasensitive, and some cats stop using the litterbox because it hurts to dig.
For personal comfort and ankle safety, I agree with HH about the spray bottle. Also yelping "OUCH!" very loudly when she grabs your ankles will probably make her jump away.
For furnishings etc. here are alternatives, such as citrus oil to spray on things you don't want her to claw (cats hate citrus) or other deterrant sprays. Some cats will allow you to trim their claws, it's worth learning to do it right (your vet will gladly show you). If you keep them trimmed they have less urge to scratch. It's also worth investing in a high-quality scratching post; my cat ignored the cheap cardboard scratchers. You don't have to pay top dollar; I got a chipboard cylinder wrapped in heavy rope that didn't cost the earth. The important thing was it was solid and stood on a heavy base so he could reach up full stretch and pull as he scratched, which stretched his muscles as well. He really enjoyed it!
Push come to shove, there are Soft Paws, a sort of plastic sheath that is fitted over each claw, but that seems awfully invasive to me. I wouldn't like it myself.


yeah we've got the spray bottle, problem is she doesn't learn haha we try to spray her every time she scratches the couch or bites our ankles, but she'll go back to doing it 1 minute later.  the citrus oil sounds interesting; what brand do you use? i'm outside the mainland US until May, so i doubt i'll find any, but i'll be sure to look.  also i like the idea of double sided tape; i'm sure i can find that in one of the office stores. we got one of those posts things for her to scratch, but she really only enjoys the ball on a spring on the top haha


we've had ed his whole life.  he's a turd.  i love him dearly, but he was the most ruthless cat i had ever met. he would scratch anything that moved-including babies/children, couches, limbs, cupboards, walls, etc.  we had hundreds of dollars worth of damage to our walls (he scratched the corners to the bare metal) and carpet (he scratched it up so there were patches in certain spots) in two houses.  we tried everything to get him to stop.  he bit a hole in the water bottle we used to spray him to get him to stop. we used the soft paws (in pink) but they grew into his paws.  he's not the kind of cat that enjoys 'playing' because it usually ended up in him hunting us.  we had to leave the house because he got so bad at one point. he eats tape, so double sided tape was a treat for him.the vet won't examine him without putting him under anesthesia.  about a year ago, i had had enough.  I put up with so much from him, and tried everything possible to get him to stop (he ignores scratching posts) for 7 years. I knew declawing was wrong, but it was the last option (i wasn't veg at that point, and didn't realize how declawing worked)  anyhoo, we declawed him.  he is a completely different cat today.  he's the sweetest, most loving cuddly cat.    it completely altered his personality (which in our case worked out for the better, but what if it hadn't..) 

normally i would never declaw a cat, but it seemed necessary at the time.  I know a lot of you will disagree, but it was either that, or give him up, which was not an option, because most people wouldn't put up with him, and we made a commitment to keep him.


I have four kitties, two of them have been front declawed.  These are my older two cats and it was done as a requirement of my landlord at the time.  (I was also not a vegetarian at the time.)  I'm in no position to judge anyone, but I will say that if you go through with the declawing, make sure it is done with laser surgery.  The old method, which my cats endured, is far more painful.  My kitties hurt so badly they just lay there for three days and cried.  I could see in their eyes how much pain they were in and I felt like a monster. 
I will never declaw another cat in my life and my current landlord is a big sissy cat lover so it's all good.  I have resigned myself to having ratty, clawed up furniture till the end of my days and I keep the betadine handy for the occasional swipe of claw! 


yeah we've got the spray bottle, problem is she doesn't learn haha we try to spray her every time she scratches the couch or bites our ankles, but she'll go back to doing it 1 minute later.  the citrus oil sounds interesting; what brand do you use? i'm outside the mainland US until May, so i doubt i'll find any, but i'll be sure to look.

I live in Europe, which is certainly outside the mainland US. I buy essential oils at the healthfood store...lemon or orange. Lemon seemed to work best with my kitty. There are two ways I've done it, both effective. Get a bottle of the cheapest possible vodka (you aren't gonna be drinking it) and pour it in a spray bottle. Add about 25 drops of the essential oil, close up and shake well. Spray around wherever you need it. Make sure the nozzle will close down so the contents doesn't evaporate between uses.

Or just rub a piece of fresh orange, lemon or tangerine peel on whatever you want them to avoid. Citronella might work, too. I never tried that.


There's disagreement in the veterinary community regarding the effects of declawing on cats (both pain and behavior).

There are many different techniques used to remove the distal digit, including laser (as storm mentioned), surgical resection, and (literally) claw clippers used to amputate. Some vets (and I believe this is the older way) will leave a small piece of the distal digit, believing this will be better for the cat's ability to walk and use her/his paw functionally (there is a tendon that attaches here, and otherwise it is cut loose). Unfortunately, leaving this piece of bone seems to be the source of chronic, post-operative pain in many cats.
Laser surgery does less trauma than using a scalpel, and far less trauma than a claw clipper. I believe there is some claim that using a laser over a scalpel increases the risk of infection because of exposure of blood vessels (sort of like how a sharp razor will make you bleed forever, versus a dull cut).
--> So I suggest that, if you ultimately do choose to have your cat declawed, discuss what the procedure entails with your veterinarian. S/he may not have the ability to do the laser surgery, so you might need to go to a different practice for that (not everyone has the tools).

There have been a few studies done on complications from declawing, but all that I can remember right now is there was one that supported that declawing does not increase the risk of cat bites (the idea is that if the cat is fearful or aggressive, s/he will find another way to attack/defend. cat scratches suck, but bites are worse because of the strong likelihood of infection).

There are alternatives, though.
- claw clipping (it's enough for some people)
- claw caps, such as Soft Paws, Soft Claws, or Kitty Caps
- behavior modification training. A licensed animal behaviorist or a veterinary behaviorist may be able to help you with ways to stop/deflect the behavior.

since she sounds pretty active, it may be worthwhile investing in a few toys that she can use alone, such as a ball track
toy mice that she can "hunt" and carry around
or other objects that seem to bring inexplicable joy, such as:
If she is your only cat, she might just want a playmate (perhaps another kitten!). If getting another cat is completely out of the question, maybe you have a friend or neighbor nearby with the cat and you can bring them together for playdates (no joke, i know people who do this. granted said person's cat is mentally disabled, but still).

Many cats mellow out as they become adults (some don't as much). The behavior may eventually stop on its own without intervention.


There's a point, for the OP: Has your cat been neutered? That often calms down agressive behaviour. And if you don't want kittens, not having to live with a female in heat is always a plus.


I was also wondering about declawing my cat and found the information here helpful. 



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