Cat Declawing Alternatives

As a cat owner, you probably find yourself dealing with scratches to your furniture, your belongings, and maybe yourself sometimes, too. Scratches are just part of having a cat, but they can be overwhelming and difficult to deal with at times.. This is why some cat owners may consider surgery to declaw their cat—but declawing is not a good option! It is a medically unnecessary procedure and Northwoods Vet Clinic  does not endorse it! This surgery is banned in some countries and some states within the U.S.

Declawing (medical term: onychectomy)  is the amputation  of the end of the toe bones from the cat’s paws. This procedure causes serious pain and has been associated with other problems such as arthritis, chronic lameness, and behavior issues. Many veterinarians like ours, will no longer perform this surgery at all. So what can you do when you’re dealing with a cat who won’t stop scratching but you are also against declawing? You have other options! In the article below, you’ll find out more information about some alternatives you can try instead of declawing your cat. Be sure to ask your vet for more information and suggestions for your cat’s specific situation, too.

Cat Declawing Alternatives Include the following:

Offer scratching surfaces.


Make sure you give your cat enough places to scratch that are his own. He needs to have a scratching post, but he also needs other types of textures and surfaces to scratch on. One popular option is a corrugated cardboard scratcher designed for cats, which may come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles.

You can create many of these surfaces yourself by using old rugs or carpets, torn up pieces of cardboard, and wood boards. Just make sure you use items that are cleaned and safe for your pet to be around.

Cat scratching yarn

Provide catnip.


Catnip can go a long way, especially when you’re trying to encourage your cat to scratch on the proper surfaces. If you want to teach your cat where to scratch instead of your furniture, cover that surface with catnip or spray it with a catnip spray. You may see positive changes in your cat’s behavior quickly..

You can purchase dried catnip in any pet store, or you can buy catnip sprays from most stores as well. You may also purchase fresh catnip from a farmer’s market and dry it yourself over the course of a week or two, then pluck the leaves and use them for your cat’s enrichment instead.


Give your cat lots of enrichment.


Cats need enrichment to keep them from getting bored. A bored cat is much more likely to get into trouble than one who has something to do that is cat-friendly and cat-safe alike. Give your cat plenty of his own toys and spaces to ensure he has enough enrichment throughout the day.

Cats need places to climb, jump, run, and dive. They need different surfaces to play with and scratch on, and they need toys that exercise their minds and bodies both. Of course, they also need food, water, and litter boxes!

Cat playing with toys


Keep your cat’s nails trimmed or apply nail caps.


One of the best methods of combating a scratching cat is to keep his nails trimmed. You can take your cat to the vet or to a groomer to have a nail trim, and the more you keep up with this maintenance, the less likely your cat will be to scratch you or your furniture.

Many cats do not like having their nails trimmed, so it can be a good idea to use a professional for this purpose. However, you may be able to learn how to trim your cat’s nails yourself with enough practice, patience, and early training. Do everything you can to make nail trimming a positive experience! Trimming nails while feeding or rewarding your cat with treats afterwards can be very helpful for positive conditioning.

Soft Paws® are vinyl nail caps that can be applied (glued) directly over the existing nail. They have to be re-applied periodically (length of time varies a little from cat to cat). They do require nail trimming prior to application and must be maintained as the cat’s nails grown or cap(s) fall off. They are a wonderful humane alternative to declawing.


Protect your furniture.


If you have a piece of furniture you know your cat is going to want to claw and scratch often, you can protect it with a variety of different products available on the market. Some of these products include temporary scratching post surfaces you can place on the corners of furniture as well as double-sided sticky tape that can deter cats from scratching.

Consider using a product called Feliscratch by Feliway. This product is an attractant that is applied to items where you want the cat to scratch, such as a scratching post! Visit their website to learn more:

Cat Scratching Couch


As you can see, there are plenty of solutions that can work for you and your cat that do not involve a complicated and very painful procedure.

With enough patience and effort, you can help your cat stop clawing furniture and scratching humans. Of course, if you have any other questions or concerns about your pet’s health, wellness, or behavioral needs, you can always talk to your vet.

Your vet will be able to give you specific advice and information relevant to your individual cat. The vet can also let you know which methods you might not have tried yet that could work as alternatives to declawing for your pet.