alternatives to handling claws in kittens

Alternatives to DeClawing Cats

Declawing your cat or kitten may sound like a solution to their scratching woes but it can cause all sorts of problems for your feline friend, leaving them defenseless and depressed. Read below to learn more.

Facts on Cat Claws

Dear Simba,
I have two new kittens. I am not thrilled with the prospect of declawing,
but that is the only way my roommate will allow them to stay. What is the youngest age that it is safe? we are having "couch issues," and I want to restore peace ASAP. The pet store told me that 5 months is the earliest, but that seems old to me. Thanks for the info. - Stephanie

Dear Stephanie,
do not declaw! There are plenty of alternatives that will keep your roommate happy and the kittens whole. Declawing = the amputation of your kittens' toes. It is very painful and can lead to problems, such as bleeding, infection, pain, avoidance of litter boxes (pain again!) and biting. Claws are cats' primary form of defense. Should you and your kittens ever become separated, your kittens will be helpless and will be at a disadvantage when it comes to hunting and defending themselves.
Declawing is irreversible! The majority of new veterinarians are against the practice of declawing because it is an unnecessary and extremely painful procedure that is harmful to your beloved cat. By declawing you will be amputating a necessary appendage and make your cat more likely to develop arthritis and joint stiffness sentencing your kitten to a life of pain and discomfort...You do not have to it!

So with all that, how can you keep your roommate happy and your kittens whole?

Train the Kittens Clip the Claws, here is how you do it.

  • Get a toe nail clipper or a cat claw clipper. Gently hold the paw in one hand, with your thumb on top of the paw and forefinger on the pad gently squeeze pushing the claw clear so it can be seen (the inside of the claw is pink, this is living tissue that you do not want to cut!). Trim the clear tip of the nail, do not clip the area where pink tissue is visible nor the opaque region outlining the pink tissue. Do that every couple of weeks. Your kittens will be the better for it.
Press-on Nails! (well, not really)

  • You've probably seen those cat nail caps on TV. These last about 6 weeks and keep your kittens from damaging the furniture. Check them out here: Soft Claws for Cats.
Hopefully, you will not declaw. You and your roommate, not to mention the kittens, will be all the better for it. If you absolutely must, 5 to 6 mos. is normal. But check with your vet. If you need new kitten tips, read some of the letters below. Let me know how things work out. Your Pal, Simba

Dear Simba,
My fiance and I have just taken in as an indoor cat a 4-year-old Female who has lived outdoors all of her life. Because she is used to softening the ground underneath her before and during lying down outside, she does the same on the bed, couch, and everything else she comes in contact with We will not be able to afford to de-claw her for a couple of months. In the meantime, how can we discourage our cat from clawing everything? Thanks for the help! All Clawed Up

Dear All Clawed UP
do not de-claw! De-clawing is a very painful procedure for cats and can have all sorts of side effects (read below). Try using Soft Claws for Cats. These little nail caps keep kitty intact but prevent damage. Keep me posted. Simba

Dear Simba,
Sniffles, our cat, is polydactyl on his front paws (he has six toes, possibly seven). The vet says that, for medical reasons, we need to get him de-clawed. I believe he has a doubled claw. Is this necessary? Concerned for kitty

Dear Concerned for Kitty,
I do not think you need to de-claw. The extra digits in polydactyl cats rarely cause problems. The one thing you need to do is to keep the toenails on the extra toes trimmed to avoid ingrown toenails. Check out the tips below for cutting. Your Pal, Simba

Soft Claws

We recently made a decision not to have our cat de-clawed, but instead had her fitted with Soft Claws. Since we put them on she has been more aloof than usual and seems to be getting worse. She sometimes urinates in the fireplace and is now aggressive towards us. She runs from us for no apparent reason. What should we look for and do? Ghontko

Dear Ghontko,
Thank you for not de-clawing kitty! Sorry also to hear of the problems you have experienced. I wonder if the gluing of the claws was traumatic for her. If so, this may have created negative associations in her mind. The second thing I wonder about is (I am asking the obvious) if the instructions were completely clear regarding placement and gluing.

This is a difficult time for your cat. Try giving her treats or her favorite foods (feed her tuna with you two in the room). Go slow and try to rebuild trust. At the same time, if you see her wince in pain take her to the vet. You may want to have the Soft Paws removed. Check out the Aggression and the Litter Box Usage sections for additional tips. Keep me posted. Simba

Readers, please write with any additional difficulties you have experienced with Soft Claws.

Reader Note:

Hi Simba,
I have been reading the questions about de-clawing and your advice about soft paw products. I just wanted to reassure everyone that these products work really well. My cat (5-months-old) never even noticed that I had put them on her. They have to be reapplied earlier than advertised, but they are a very good product and should be recommended to anyone who is considering the mistake of de-clawing. Trey ---- Thanks for the note, Simba

De-Clawed Cats

Hi Simba,
I have an 8-month-old female kitty named Hope. I have had her recently De-clawed, both front and back, and I have been very concerned about her restoring back to normal functioning.I am a very loving owner; I have served her like a queen throughout her recovery, but some of the opinions I have read about de-clawing, have bestowed a great amount of guilt on me. Hope was destroying everything in my home. She was also scratching my 8-year-old daughter. What can I do to make her comfortable? Tracey

Dear Tracey,
As you know I am against de-clawing. Given that Hope has already been de-clawed, I recommend that you continue to be the loving and caring owner you are. Be sure to pet her and give her your love and attention.

Keep an eye on her paws and watch for any pus, bleeding, inflammation or other signs of infection. As she improves give her toys with which to play and things on which she can perch. Because Hope can no longer use her claws for climbing, get her furniture that does not require much gripping.

Perhaps the most important thing is that, you do not let Hope outside, ever unless she is in a harness and is supervised by you. Having been de-clawed, Hope is much more vulnerable to mean animals that can hurt her. She is also less able to hunt and climb than she was previously.

You are not alone in feeling guilty. Many readers have had their cats de-clawed, only to have second thoughts. The most important thing is that you be the best you can be for your kitty. I am sure you can do that. Keep me posted. Simba

Hi Simba,
We de-clawed our Bengal kitten, Bon-Bon 2 months ago. Huge mistake! She was a WILD cat, very playful, peeking around corners and pouncing on everyone. Since she was an indoor cat, we thought we were doing the right thing. Now, Bon-Bon just lays around the house, sleeping. She has no appetite. She is like a different cat. The vet said she was still healing, but it has been over two months. Do cats get depressed? Will she stay this way? Elaine

P.S. Please do not yell at us about the de-clawing. We wish we never did it and if we could turn back time, we would bring our Wild Cat back.

Dear Elaine - Yes, cats do get depressed. A cat's claws are an integral part of their lives, cats use them to scratch, stretch, investigate and with the glands on the ends, to place scents. This is not intended to make you feel guilty, it is just background. So what do you do? Redirect her attention and energy to things that are not claw-focused. Play with her and spend time with her. Get a cat teaser or a pack of foam balls, rolled up pieces of paper, anything, just get her excited and energized. Set time aside each day for play and then play. Also, monitor her eating. Failure to consume calories may lead to all sorts of problems. Get her supplements if you do not see that getting better. Your Pal, Simba

Simba,Thanks you for your answer to my de-clawing problem. I really think Bon-Bon misses her nails. We are going to put your advice to work right away. One last question,. Would bringing another cat in as a playmate be a good idea? I have heard cats can be very possessive, but another cat would give her someone to play with when we are are not around, right? How do we decide? it is a big decision in this house, so any held is greatly appreciated. - Elaine Lawrence

Elaine, You ask a good question. Check out Helping New Cats Adjust for do's and do not's of introducing new cats to your home. Simba


Hi Simba:
Our 19-year-old cat has one ingrown claw...It curls around on itself. What should we do? - Thanks Mark

Dear Mark,
If you find that you cannot safely clip the claw without infringing on any soft or pink tissue (see above) the best thing to do is to take your cat to the vet. An ingrown nail can be quite painful to your cat, so trying to clip it may cause your friend to scratch. Your vet will likely restrain the poor thing or put him under some anesthesia so he safely can work on the nail. At 19 years of age, be sure that you are going to check ups on a regular basis. You have quite a cat there, keep him healthy. Your Pal, Simba

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