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3 declawing alternatives

We love our cats, but not the damage that their claws can do to furniture, carpets, drapes, and bedding. Unlike human fingernails, a cat’s claws grow in layers, with new material developing beneath the old. So, when a claw is fully mature, it is shed. This is why it’s common to find discarded claw sheaths on or near the materials where your cat most often scratches.

Scratching is deeply rooted in a cat’s hardwiring and is a hard habit to break. In the wild, a feline’s claws are not only a powerful defense, they are an essential hunting tool. Dull claws can mean lost prey and a missed meal, so cats are very motivated to keep their claws sharp.

The Declawing Procedure

Declawing (onychectomy) has been widely used on house cats for decades, but it is a surgical procedure that requires anesthesia and involves the removal of the third phalanx bone. For this reason, it is often compared to a human having each fingertip removed. And as with any surgery, the procedure is followed by a period of discomfort and recovery for the animal.

Also, the procedure is not 100% effective, as some cats experience claw reqrowth or other post-surgical complications. For these reasons, not all cat owners are comfortable with the idea of declawing and prefer a non-surgical alternative.

With that in mind, we offer three alternatives to declawing your cat.

1. Safeguard tempting surfaces.

Many cat owners prefer an approach that emphasizes deterrence. That means making tempting scratching surfaces less enticing to your cat. Some aluminum foil on couch or chair arms, as cats tend to dislike the metallic texture.

Another way to dissuade your cat from scratching is to use double-sided tape or Sticky Paws™ on scratch-prone surfaces. If you’re seeking a subtle deterrent, you can try a mild citrus spray on tempting surfaces—cats dislike the smell. And f you like high-tech solutions, you can try a motion-activated air sprayer that emanates a puff of air when your cat gets too close to an “off limits” area.

2. Try vinyl nail caps.

Soft Paws™ nail caps were developed by a veterinarian to act as sheaths over your pet’s claws. The hollow nail caps are safe and attach using a non-toxic adhesive. While your cat continues to scratch, there’s no damage to furniture, drapes, and carpets. The vinyl caps last about 4 to 6 weeks and are shed with the natural growth of the nail material. Most cats become accustomed to the sheaths easily.

3. Make nail trimming a routine.

Nothing dulls sharp claws faster than a good old-fashioned nail trim. Some cats don’t like having their paws handled, and some are downright uncooperative when it comes to getting a mani-pedi. If you have a cat doesn’t tolerate it well, ask your vet to show you a few nail trimming tricks to help make the process easier. If your budget allows, check out a pet grooming service in your area. Nail trimming is typically offered either alone or as part of a full grooming package at most groomers and pet salons.

We hope these tips will help reduce household damage while letting your cats be themselves.


Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.

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