If you are considering declawing your cat, please read this. It will only take a moment, and it will give you valuable information to make an informed decision.
First, you should know that declawing is pretty much an American thing, it's something people do for their own convenience without realizing what actually happens to their beloved cat. In England declawing is termed "inhumane" and "unnecessary mutilation." I agree. In many European countries it is illegal. I applaud their attitude.
Before you make the decision to declaw your cat, there are some important facts you should know. Declawing is not like a manicure. It is serious surgery. Your cat's claw is not a toenail. It is actually closely adhered to the bone. So closely adhered that to remove the claw, the last bone of your the cat's claw has to be removed. Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat's "toes". When you envision that, it becomes clear why declawing is not a humane act. It is a painful surgery, with an agonizing recovery period. And remember that during the time of recuperation from the surgery your cat would still have to use its feet to walk, jump, and scratch in its litter box regardless of the pain it is experiencing. Wheelchairs and bedpans are not an option for a cat.
No cat lover would doubt that cats--whose senses are much keener than ours--suffer pain. They may, however, hide it better. Not only are they proud, they instinctively know that they are at risk when in a weakened position, and by nature will attempt to hide it. But make no mistake. This is not a surgery to be taken lightly.
Your cat's body is perfectly designed to give it the grace, agility and beauty that is unique to felines. Its claws are an important part of this design. Amputating this vital part of their anatomy that contains the claws drastically alters the conformation of their feet. The cat is also deprived of its primary means of defense, leaving it helpless against predators if ever outdoors. Many indoor pets are killed, injured or end up in shelters because they escaped outside and couldn't find their way back. It's unfortunate when this happens to unaltered cats – and the situation is far more dangerous to a declawed pet.
I have also had people tell me that their cat's personality changed after being declawed. Declawing may lead to a very emotionally disturbed cat that may resort to biting. This is due to personality changes that can take place after declawing. Many people have reported that their formerly lively, friendly kitty has become withdrawn. Others become nervous, fearful, and/or aggressive - often using their only remaining defense - their teeth. As if that weren't enough, the constant state of stress caused by a feeling of defenselessness may make some declawed cats more prone to disease or to inappropriate elimination outside the litterbox.
Okay, so now you realize that declawing is too drastic a solution, but you're still concerned about keeping your household furnishings intact. Is there an acceptable solution? Happily, the answer is yes. A big, joyful, humane YES! Actually there are several. The website http://www.catscratching.com/ provides many solutions as well as insights into the psychology of why cats scratch. You can teach your cat to use a scratching post (sisal posts are by far the best) or even the cardboard scratch pads. You can trim the front claws. You can also employ aversion methods like clapping or a water pistol. One of the best solutions I've found is Soft Paws®.
Soft Paws are lightweight vinyl nail caps that you glue on the cat's front claws. They're great for households with small children and are extremely useful for people who are away from home all day and can't exercise the watchfulness necessary to train a cat to use a scratching post. Soft Paws® are easy to apply and last about four to six weeks. They come in clear or colors--which are really fun. Now that's a kitty manicure! The colored caps look spiffy on Tabby or Tom and have the added advantage of being more visible when one finally comes off. Then you simply replace it. You can find Soft Paws® at http://www.softpaws.com/ or call 1-800-989-2542.