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Spend the Time, Save your Kitten’s Toes

Cats scratch!  It is an inherent behavior to them as a species.   They communicate, exercise, and groom through this activity.  Is it fair that we bring these appreciative pets into our homes and families and forbid them from doing this or more confusing still, expect that they know where we want them to scratch?  Instead of taking the time and training our feline family member, we may jump to an invasive surgery option that will rid of us of the problem, declawing.

Considered animal cruelty in many countries around the world, declaw surgery is a procedure that amputates the first bone (not just the nail, which would be painful enough) of each toe.  This prevents the cat’s nail from growing back and so the sofa is spared.  But wouldn’t it be nice if we could bypass all this unnecessary pain and cost and become proactive.

Below are Lomsnes Veterinary Hospital’s guidelines to keep us and our kitty friends happy, so declawing never becomes necessary:

  1. Every household that has a cat needs at least one scratching post
    • Each cat is an individual! Find the right post for your scratch-happy tabby:  ie) carpet, cardboard, upright or along the floor in a multi cat household, it often helps if they each have their own
    • Placement: we don’t expect our kids to play with toys that we stick in a basement corner, as solitary as they may seem cats love to engage with their family! Bring the scratching apparatus to where you spend your time, and then they will be less likely to show off their prowess on the couch where you are watching tv. Make sure the post is clean, add toys, spray with catnip. Anything to make it theirs and desirable! (This might be as simple as not putting it next to the dog’s bed, or your teenage sons drum set!)
  2. Keep the nails trimmed
    • Start early! Start touching your kitten’s feet as soon as possible, try one toe at a time until you both get used to it
    • Make it positive:  treats, toys, and go slow
    • Ask a Lomsnes Veterinary Hospital team member to show you how, or bring him in for regular mani/pedi’s if you don’t feel comfortable.
  3. Engage and exercise! “Idle paws are the devil’s workshop”
    • Just like our children and our dogs, exercise goes a long way to keeping our kitties out of trouble.
    • Play with toys, strings, paper (my cat’s favorite is a crumpled up receipt, she goes crazy!), hide and seek.
    • Provide lots of opportunity for them to climb and explore ie. shelves, windows, cat trees  and ample space in your home

Let’s appreciate our cats and respect who and what they are.  If we provide plenty of opportunity and means to scratch and engage in feline behaviors they don’t have to improvise on the furniture. They don’t do it to “hiss” us off, they’re just being cats!

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