Living With Animals: Feline Mani-Pedi

Two cats allow me to share their home. Grateful for their generosity, in exchange I perform all sorts of menial tasks for them. Although not their favorite (nor mine), routine nail trimming is high on that list. These feline mani-pedi sessions occur every few weeks, and while rarely an entirely stress-free experience we get through them unscathed. And it’s far preferable to declawing.

Several different procedures get lumped together as declawing but all are surgical and none are benign. It’s been said that a comparable procedure on a person is chopping off each finger at the knuckle closest to the fingertip. Yes, you should have just grimaced because what we’re talking about is a big deal. Assuming you don’t live where it’s illegal (several states are considering legislative bans and many communities, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, already have local ordinances in place), this is a discussion to have with your veterinarian. Many doctors will no longer perform the surgery, and those who do are typically only willing to do so as a last resort: that is, if all other nonsurgical means have been tried and exhausted, and declawing is the only option left to keep a “problem” cat in the home.

The “problem” is, of course, cats scratch. Lions scratch, tigers scratch, house cats scratch. It’s a normal behavior and you’re not going to stop it. The question is can you stop scratching from causing damage to your stuff. The answer is almost always Yes. Nail trimming is one key component since trimmed nails (cut to remove that needle sharp tip, leaving a dull butter knife in place of the bayonet) are unlikely to do any damage. There are also little rubbery tips which can be attached to your cat’s nails (these need periodic replacing) and double-sided tape products which can make your couch’s arm less appealing than the catnip-sprayed scratching post. Pet- icures or surgery? I think you know which to pick!

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