Though declawing has become a common practice in the United States, it can cause health issues for cats. Declawing does not just remove the cat's nails; it also removes the last bone from the toes. Some cats who are declawed later develop back pain and arthritis because the declawing alters the way they walk. Infections and foot pain are also common. If you'd rather not put your cat at risk of these ailments, there are two safer, more humane ways you can keep your cat from scratching up your furniture.
Clipping The Nails
Your cat may not enjoy the process of having his nails clipped at first, but the process is actually painless and your cat will eventually get used to it. You'll have to clip the nails ever two or three weeks to keep them blunt. Your cat may try to scratch the furniture with his trimmed nails, but he won't cause much, if any, damage because the nails are blunt.
To clip your cat's nails, you can use regular nail clippers or buy some specifically made for animals at your local pet store. Hold your cat in your lap, and press on his paw to make the claws pop out. Start by clipping just one nail. Only clip off the end of the nail. Don't cut into the lower portion that contains a blood vessel or you cat may bleed. If you do accidentally cut this portion, don't panic. Your cat will bleed a little, but you can stop the bleeding by sticking his nail in a little soap. It should heal up in a few days.
It's okay if you can only clip a nail or two during the first few sessions. Give your cat a treat after each nail trimming, and he'll soon come to associate the trimming with treats. Before long, he'll sit still and just let you clip his nails.
If your cat really hates getting his nails trimmed and you don't think you'll manage, there's another alternative. Claw covers are little rubber sleeves that slip over each of your cat's individual claws. They make the claws blunt on the end so your cat can't scratch anything. Most cats get used to them within a few days; they don't cause any pain or irritation.
The claw caps come in a set and are sold at many pet stores. They come in bright colors like pink and red so you can tell in a glance if they're still on. You simply slide them onto the claws, one at a time. They'll stay on for a few weeks (the exact time depends on your cat), and when you see that they've slid off, you just slide new ones on.
For more tips on how to keep your cat from clawing your furniture or for help trimming its nails, talk to a groomer like those at Kenhaven Animal Hospital.