Declawing Cats
by Delisa Renideo

(Fifth article)

June is ďAdopt A Shelter Cat Month.Ē And if you check out the website, you will see there are lots of cats to choose from. Some are at the Borough Animal Care and Regulation Shelter, and others are living in foster homes. There are lots of adorable kittens to choose from. But please also consider adopting an adult cat that has already learned not to climb curtains and would be so grateful for a loving home.
You have seen in my previous articles that I strongly encourage taking your cat to the vet or SPCA as soon as possible to be spayed or neutered to avoid contributing to the homeless pets that end up on the streets or killed because of overpopulation. And you may hear from some people that this is a good time to get your cat declawed. PLEASE DONíT DO THIS!
Declawing a cat is generally done because people are concerned that their cat may scratch their furniture. This is a valid concern, but you can protect your furniture with some simple and humane alternatives. Declawing a cat is an inhumane mutilation of a catís feet.
Removing catsí claws requires amputating each toe at the last joint.Bone is removed, as well as claws. Can you imagine having every single one of your fingers amputated at the first joint? Think how painful it would be to recover from that surgery. And then think about how much worse it is for a cat because they have to walk on their fingers! This extremely painful procedure also changes the catsí balance, requiring it to relearn how to walk, run, and balance. It also renders the cat defenseless, which can create emotional problems as well as a greater risk of your cat being injured.
Cats without claws are more likely to become biters. They are also more likely to become either extra timid or extra aggressive.Some shelter workers report that declawed cats are sometimes given up as a result of the emotional and behavior problems resulting from this mutilation.

So what else can you do to avoid having your furniture destroyed? The good news is that cats can be encouraged to scratch something else.Cats need to scratch, but they can be very happy with scratching posts made of a variety of materials. You can purchase them or make them. Its good to have several, placed in various parts of the house. I have scratching posts in almost every room.. You can train your cat to use the post by saying ďNO!Ē when they scratch the wrong thing, and then pick them up and carry them to the scratching post in a very friendly way, and rub their feet on the post or demonstrate yourself. You can experiment with different textures to see what sorts of things your cat likes to scratch. Sisal, cardboard, and rough carpeting are all good materials.
It is also very helpful and quite easy to keep your catís claws trimmed. Extend your catís claws by pressing their paw between your thumb and fingers, and then clip the sharp tip of each claw with sharp clippers. Just be sure to avoid going down into the pink part of the claw, causing pain and bleeding. That mistake will make it much more difficult to get cooperation the next time! If you need a demonstration, you can get a lesson from your vet or a groomer.
Many other countries have outlawed the practice of declawing cats, but the U.S. is lagging behind. Please spread the word so we can become more loving guardians of our feline friends.

Delisa is a co-founder of Rays of Hope and can be contacted at 373-1526.

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