Did you know that the U.S. and Canada are the only countries where declawing cats is commonplace? Cats need their claws. They use them to grab things. If you toss a toy to a kitty, you can see her grasp onto it with her claws. Yes, they like to scratch. But if your cat is scratching your sofa or carpet, you need to buy a good scratching post and train your cat to use it. That's a better solution than taking away something your cat needs.
Here are five reasons not to declaw your cats:
1. Cats need claws for protection...
If your cat ever gets outside and doesn’t have claws, he will be defenseless. Cats use their claws to climb trees, which can help them escape from dangerous situations. Without those claws, he has a greater chance of being attacked.
2. ...for exercise...
Cats also use their claws for stretching their muscles.
3. ...for marking territory...
Ever see a declawed cat scratch your furniture? It’s an inherent trait that marks a cat’s territory. But they won’t scratch a particular item if you train them to use a scratching post. (In my house we avoid certain items, like tightly woven rugs and wicker furniture. They are just too tempting.)
4. ...and for balance.
When a cat is declawed, it’s not at all like clipping nails. Declawing is amputating the claw and related bone and muscle tissue. Without their claws, cats often have trouble balancing.
5. Not only that, removing claws can cause health problems.
According to my friends at Best Friends Animal Society, many declawed cats suffer from joint stiffness, and because their paws remain sensitive from the surgery, they avoid scratching in their litter boxes.
For more information on declawing and the health issues associated with it, check out The Paw Project. To train your cat to use a scratching post, read these tips from the MSPCA. The Humane Society of the U.S. has a list of tips on how to trim a cat's claws.
Michele C. Hollow writes about pets and wildlife for parade.com. She also writes the animal advocacy blog Pet News and Views. She is the author of The Everything Guide to Working with Animals.