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Cats and Their Nails

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.

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.

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

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

Regular nail trims can help keep your cat’s nails blunt and less likely to do damage. Ask your veterinarian office for tips and a nail trim demo. Nail caps such as Soft Paws are also available which 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

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