Cats and Their Nails

Declawing Controversy in Nova Scotia

Cats and their claws have been in the news lately, with the decision of the Nova Scotia Veterinary Association to ban declawing for non-medical reasons. Why was it banned? Declawing involves the amputation of a cat’s third phalanx or “toe bone.” Cat’s claws are attached to the last bone in their toes. A comparison in human terms would be cutting off a person’s finger at the last joint.

The Natural Purpose of Scratching

Scratching is also normal behaviour for cats. The primary reason cats scratch is to maintain the necessary claw motion used in hunting and climbing, as well as a means to stretch their body. Scratching is a part of the marking behaviour for cats and serves as a way to remove the outer dead layer of the claws.

Alternatives to Declawing

What are some alternatives to declawing? Scratching posts or pads come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures. It may be helpful to buy several types to see which one your cat prefers. When you see your cat using the post, reward her with treats, catnip, play or grooming.

Place the post near a sleeping area or near an area where the cat is already scratching, and you want to discourage it, like a couch leg.

Nail Trims and Protective Caps

Regular nail trims can help keep your cat’s nails blunt and less likely to do damage. Ask your veterinarian's office for tips and a nail trim demo. Nail caps such as Soft Paws are also available, and they slide over your cat’s nails and prevent scratching. If your cat is scratching the furniture it may also help to apply two-sided sticky tape, tin foil, plastic or furniture covers to deter them.

Written by Mikaila Cariou, RVT