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Declawing Alternatives for Cats

declawing alternatives

What are Nail Caps?

Plastic nail caps are one alternative to cat declawing. The caps come in various sizes and are shaped like a cat’s natural nail. Using pet-safe adhesive, the nail caps are glued to a cat’s trimmed nails one at a time.

While cats may take time to adjust to the use of nail caps, even pulling them off, they will most often become used to the nail covers over time. Should a cat swallow a nail cap, it will pass naturally.

Cat declawing is possibly one of the most controversial of all animal surgeries. Cats scratch to mark territory and to keep their claws in top condition, but the scratching behavior can challenge the bond between a cat and his owner. Felines, especially young cats, often play rough and scratch their owners or other animals. Scratching behavior also ruins furniture, flooring, draperies, and clothes in many cases.

While declawing is a permanent solution to these problems, it is a surgical procedure requiring anesthesia and removal of the end of the digit, including the nail with the attached bone. National veterinary medical associations state that an owner should consider declawing a cat only after exhausting all other solutions to the scratching behavior, or when scratching increases the risk for spreading infectious disease between the cat and people in the house.

Non-surgical alternatives to declawing include:

  • Providing appealing scratching posts
  • Regular claw care including trimming every 1 to 2 weeks
  • Plastic nail caps

A cat owner can purchase commercially made scratching posts or make one at home. Scratching posts use cardboard boxes, lumber, logs, or carpet scraps attached to a sturdy object. Cats like the backing of the carpet best, so put the pretty, soft side on the inside. Any scratching posts should be securely anchored, and the scratching post should be taller than the cat so she can really stretch out when she scratches. Cat owners should use positive reinforcement to encourage the cat to use scratching posts instead of furniture.

Temporary synthetic nail caps are also an effective alternative to declawing. There are a variety of synthetic nail caps on the market. These colorful caps cover the cat’s natural nail, protecting skin and furniture when she makes scratching motions. Nail caps will grow off, requiring replacement every four to six weeks. Your groomer or veterinary office can apply the first set of nail caps, but it is also possible to apply them at home.

There are surgical alternatives to conventional declawing but these methods also involve removal of tissue from a cat’s toes. These alternatives include laser declawing and tendonectomy. Laser declawing uses laser energy instead of a scalpel or guillotine blade. Tendonectomy removes the tendon that allows cats to control the claw but leaves the claw intact.

Many cats’ scratching problems can be resolved with non-surgical solutions before declawing must be considered. Non-surgical methods carry a very low risk, if any, for complications. Contact your veterinarian for more information about declawing and non-surgical alternatives.

Sources:

"Declawing of Domestic Cats." Declawing of Domestic Cats. American Veterinary Medical Association. Web.

Pet emergency? Call us right away at 780-872-7387! 

Welcome to the Southside Veterinary Clinic! We offer a comfortable and home-like atmosphere to welcome you and your pet. We are a full service, small animal clinic, dedicated to the health of your dogs, cats, and other wonderful pets. 

To allow us to serve you better, we ask that you phone us at 780-872-PETS (7387) or click on the "Request Appointment" link above to make an appointment for your pets prior to coming in.  This helps us ensure that there is a veterinarian available to help you without delay. If it is an emergency during business hours, if possible please call to let us know that you are on your way into the clinic and the nature of the emergency. We may need to prepare for your arrival or direct you to our partner clinic, Lloydminster Animal Hospital, for further diagnostics, treatment or intensive care. Our goal is to provide your pet with the best possible care! 

Should you have an emergency or require veterinary care outside of regular hours, you can reach an on-call veterinarian 24 hours daily by calling Southside Veterinary Clinic.

**All after hours calls will be seen at Lloydminster Animal Hospital.

That hospital is located at 6002 50th Avenue, Lloydminster, AB.

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