Caring for Your New Pet

Congratulations on adopting your new best friend! Here are some helpful resources to get you and your new buddy off to a great start:

Training

Baypath strongly supports positive reinforcement and is happy to recommend trainers that use related methods such as clicker training and treats. Feel free to call or visit the shelter for local trainer suggestions.

Declawing

A cat’s natural instinct to scratch serves both physical and psychological needs. It exercises foot muscles and helps remove the outer layer of nail that is periodically shed. The rhythmic action also provides psychological comfort. The contraction of the nails reassures the animal his self-defense mechanisms are in good working order.

The standard declawing procedure calls for the removal of the claw and the first bone of the toe. The operation is usually performed on the front feet and is actually an amputation comparable to the removal of human fingertips at the first knuckle. The cat experiences pain in the recovery and healing process. We discuss the risks involved and alternative solutions in the sections that follow.

Complications of Declawing

The surgical removal of a cat’s claws inflicts great physical suffering on the animal. Also, the psychological adjustment is very difficult – many declawed cats become biters. The number of declawed cats surrendered as unwanted pets or strays attests to the fact that pet owners have great difficulty rehabilitating a declawed cat. If your cat goes outdoors, removing her claws puts her at a tremendous disadvantage.

Physical Complications

  • Because a general anesthetic is necessary, there is the danger of an adverse reaction.
  • If the bandages are put on too tightly, the foot may become gangrenous and necessitate an amputation of the leg.
  • When the bandages are removed, many cats will begin to hemorrhage, thus, requiring rebandaging.
  • In many instances, the entire nail bed was not removed and one or more claws will begin to regrow. The claws that do regrow are usually misshapen and quite useless.

Emotional Complications

  • Upon recovering from the anesthetic, a healthy cat wonders why its feet are throbbing and bandaged.
  • After the bandages are removed, the cat wonders what happened to its claws and why it hurts when it walks.
  • Frequently, a cat becomes distrustful of its owner and/or veterinarian. With rare exception, the declawed cat is the most difficult to examine.
  • A declawed cat is more apt to bite if it feels threatened. It doesn’t take much for the cat to feel nervous.

Safety Risks
A declawed cat must never be allowed outdoors since its ability to defend itself or escape from danger has been seriously impaired.

Alternatives to Declawing
There are other choices for you and your cat. Cats were born with claws for a reason. Please do not declaw your cat. As we previously stated, declawing is a painful procedure that can have serious consequences for your pet. We hope you will explore alternatives.

  • Nail Clipping
    If you clip off a tiny bit of each nail once a week or every two weeks, 80% of the cats will significantly reduce their scratching. Damage done by continued scratching will also greatly lessen as dulled, clipped nails are significantly less harmful to surfaces. Make nail trimming a part of your pet’s grooming ritual and begin when your pet is young. When clipping the nail, be careful not to cut into the pink “quick” that runs down the center of the nail. Should you need help, your vet or someone at the shelter will gladly show you how to properly trim your pet’s nails.
  • Scratching Posts
    Buy or make a scratching post that is tall enough so that the cat can stretch completely when using it. The post should be stable so it will not wobble when being used. It should be covered with a heavy, rough fiber like the back side of carpeting or thick rope. Make the post a fun place to be by playing with your cat around it, attaching toys to it or by rubbing it with catnip. Your cat likes to be where you are so put the post in an accessible area where you can see it. If you are trying to discourage the cat from scratching a particular piece of furniture, try placing the post in front of it, gradually moving the post aside as the cat begins to use it regularly. Remember to praise her for being a good cat and using her post!
  • Perfume
    Shake a small amount of Jean Naté bath oil on a piece of cotton. Attach the cotton to the part of the furniture the cat is scratching. This will repel the cat so long as the scent remains (while giving your room a pleasant aroma). A little squirt of Jean Naté goes a long way so use it sparingly. Make sure you do not stain your fabric.
  • Sticky Tape
    Cats hate to get their paws dirty or stuck. Use either carpet or scotch tape that is sticky on both sides, placing strips of the tape along the edges of the furniture, carpeting or whatever the cat is scratching.
  • Soft Paws
    Soft Paws are little plastic covers that are glued on to the cat’s nails. Let your vet put them on. Once the Soft Paws are in place, your cat can scratch to his heart’s content without damaging your chair or sofa. Soft Paws will be effective for about 4 months, after which time a new set will need to be put on.