You love your new cat, but he's clawing and scratching all your furniture! The immediate resolution that comes to mind is to have him declawed, but before you rush into this you should think long and hard for declawing a cat is not a simple procedure - it is a major surgery involving surgical amputation of the first joint of a cat's toe. Declawing is a painful surgery for your cat. While your cat will get pain medication for his after surgery recovery, the tips of the nerves need time to heal and he can be in pain for weeks or even months until this has happened. This can cause your cuddly little kitty to become highly irritable and aggressive.
Not only that, but the claws are a cats chief chief weapon of defense. Sure, you take every precaution to make sure your cat doesn't get outside, but what if something happens and he finds himself alone in the elements facing other animals? There will always be occasions when a cat may be confronted by other cats or dogs. Then, it will find it impossible to strike back, because it has no claws. To use its teeth, it needs to get close to its attacker, which may not happen. A declawed cat therefore become a helpless victim in front any aggressor.
Declawing can also lead to problems in the litter box. Declawed cats sometimes avoid the litter box and choose the softer carpet instead since it is painful for them to dig into the litter. Declawing can also lead to biting problems. Since this is their second line of defense, some cats may resort to deep biting to make up for their lack of claws. Even during play, your cat can no longer scratch as a warning and may be prone to biting now instead. Claws and toes also provide exercise to your cat.
When a cat stretches horizontally on a carpet or vertically with a tail scratching post, it pulls and stretches its muscles by grabbing the carpet or post with its claws. As a matter of fact, the cat's claws play a large and positive role in its extraordinary muscle tone and agility. Finally, declawing can cause joint problems later on in your cats life.
Cats walk on their toes so the absence of claws can affect all the joints of the leg resulting in arthritis of the hip and other joints later. But you don't have to sacrifice your furniture in order to save your cat the pain of declawing. With time and patience you can train your cat to scratch in a more desirable area. Make sure you invest in a scratching post or accessory that your cat likes.
Mine loves the simple corrugated cardboard slabs that you can buy in any pet store. Watch your cat carefully and you will see a pattern of when and where he likes to scratch the most. Put the scratching post in the room where he likes to scratch and wait for him to scratch in his usual place.
When you see him starting to scratch distract him and lead him over to the scratching post. Praise him when he uses the post and say "Bad Kitty" when he uses the furniture. Eventually he will start to favor the post - you just have to make him think it was his idea!.
Lee Dobbins is a cat owner and animal lover. Visit Cats at the Family Webzone for more tips and info on cats.