When we got Aeris, she was more of a handful than I anticipated. I remembered our quiet, docile, elder cats. I had no idea what I was getting into with a six week old kitten.
She was, and has remained, a rambunctious scratcher and climber. When she was young, I threatened many times that if we couldn’t curb her behavior, we would have to declaw her. After all, the cats I grew up with had been declawed, and I neve knew about any problems from them.
But the more I’ve learned about declawing, the more horrified I am by it. Did you know, one third of all cats who are declawed will develop a behavioral issue as a result. This includes not using the litterbox (because litter hurts their paws), biting, and limping. It can also greatly contribute to arthritis down the road.
And it’s not that declawing keeps cats in homes. The cats who develop an issue after being declawed are far more likely to end up in a shelter than a cat who scratches the couch.
With humans, our nails grow from under our skin. On cats, however, the nail grows directly from a bone. So in order to declaw the cat, this entire bone has to be removed – akin to removing your finger at the first knuckle.
Shards of bone can also grow back or be missed in the removal, causing massive pain and very grouchy animals.
What we don’t talk about, however, is how to deal with a cat whom you havent declawed, but seems bent on scratching everything?
First understand that if your cat scratches next to where you’re sitting, such as on a couch, they are trying to put their scent near yours. Give them a place they can scratch. Yes, that means a scratching post right next to your couch. In fact, give them multiple places to scratch, both horizontal and vertical. Let me tell you, a vertical scratcher has cut down on inappropriate scratching so much!
You can also try curbing the behavior itself – but you have to understand that whatever your cat does when you’re aroibd, they’ll do when you’re not. I’ve used a pheromone spray with some success, though I’m not sure whether the smell actually works or if she hates the sound. There’s also double sided tape. Pretty? No. But this has worked really well in conjunction with the things above. I plan to remove the tape, slowly, when Aeris isn’t looking. In the meantime, she enjoys licking it. She’s so weird.
Please check out pawproject.org for more information on declawing, and look up Jackson Galaxy for tips on dealing with cat behavior and making your space cat friendly.