This nicely visualised photo of a cat’s claws with whiskers in the background caught my eye today. It is important to celebrate the anatomy of the domestic cat. A cat’s claws are a major part of the cat. They are not an annoying piece of anatomy to be removed at the whim of the owner. Claws do a lot of things for a cat. They are integral to normal feline behaviour. They should be respected and avoided! 🙂
- Domestic cat claws are protrusible not retractable
- Why kittens are born with claws and why cats need them
The point is that cat caregivers can easily avoid being scratched by applying a bit of intelligence to the relationship. It starts with being aware, through observation, of one’s cat’s behaviour and the times and circumstances under which the family cat might take a swipe, normally in play, or as an act of defensive aggression. The latter may occur if a child is mishandling a cat.
One major reason why cats are relinquished to shelters is because they’ve scratched someone in the family. The cat is deemed to be aggressive. No. The cat was mishandled. All cat behaviour is natural and largely instinctive. If you push a certain emotional button a domestic will as sure as eggs is eggs take a swipe with claws out.
It can happen entirely innocently. I’ll provide an example if I may. Your cat has come in from the outside. He is slightly wound up having reverted to his wild self. You pet him in greeting him. You withdraw your hand from him near his face. He perceives your hand as a prey animal as cats respond to fast movements. He swipes at it to bring it down and capture it. Your hand is scratched. As this happens immediately after you have petted him it hurts you emotionally. It strains the relationship.
In some homes it would lead to cat abandonment if it occurred several times despite the cause being careless cat caregiving and nothing to do with ‘bad cat behaviour’. Dump the idea of bad cat behaviour and think instinctive, correct, predictable domestic cat behaviour that needs to be managed with thoughtful and observant cat caregiving.
Cat caregivers need to learn when their cat might take an instinctive swipe or bite in play or because of behavioural traits such as redirected aggression. They can then avoid bites and scratches and marvel at the beauty of the cat claw, a vital part of a top predator.
One issue is that many cat owners stop remembering that they are living with a classy predator. Cats can be and are cuddly. Cats can be and are predators. Their raison d’être is to hunt and kill. Claws are part of the predation process.
Raison d’être: French for the most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence.
SOME MORE ON CLAWS: