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Cat Scratching, Declawing, and Rentals: How to Talk with Your Landlord About Declawing

Talk to your landlord about declawing your cat.

It's a common situation. You're moving, and you've found the perfect place to rent. You can afford it, it's in the perfect location, and there's plenty of parking. And you've finally found a place that takes pets, so you and your cat can stay together.

The only problem with the new place is that cats must be declawed. When you ask why, the management tells you it's because of potential cat scratching damage to the rental.

You can't stand the thought declawing your cat, but what can you do? It's already hard enough to find a rental that takes cats, and you won't give her up. You're between a rock and a hard place.

First, Make Sure You Are a Responsible Pet Owner

If you want to convince your new landlord that you would be a great tenant who is thoughtful and proactive about your cat's impact on the property, make sure that you've covered the bases of good pet ownership.

  • Ensure that your cat is spayed or neutered. Female cats going into heat and male cats wanting to escape, fight, or mark territory don't make good tenants.
  • Keep your cat indoors. A cat that is allowed outside may bother other tenants or neighbors, impact the local bird population, cause a nuisance by urinating on people's things, and be at risk for being injured or acquiring an illness.
  • Keep your cat up-to-date on local health requirements. If your area requires that cats be licensed, be sure to keep yours current. Take your cat in routinely for veterinary care and follow the doctor's recommendations for vaccinations and preventatives for your individual animal. Be sure to have current paperwork to show your landlord that you are responsible with your cat's veterinary care.
  • Use routine flea control. Your new landlord may be concerned about a flea infestation on his or her property, so be ready to demonstrate a history of using routine flea preventative. Be sure to use a product specifically recommended by your veterinarian because many over-the-counter flea preventatives as well as many used on dogs are toxic to cats.
  • Keep your cat's claws trimmed. Learn how to trim your cat's claws, and keep them short. Blunted claws do less damage to items than those with curved, sharp tips.
  • Keep Soft Paws® on your cat's claws. Learn how to put Soft Paws® on your cat's claws and make it a habit. They will help reduce any damage that your cat's claws can do to the rental home.

Be a Responsible Tenant

Once you are accepted to a rental property, make sure you always pay on time, don't disturb your neighbors or make messes, and generally be a great tenant. That way, when you are attempting to move into a new place and convince them to take you and your cat (without declawing), you'll have a past history to show for yourself.

When you leave a rental property, ask your landlord for a letter of recommendation outlining your qualities as a good tenant, and be sure to ask them to include a reference for your cat's good behavior, too. Showing your new landlord that your cat has successfully avoided damaging your previous rentals can go a long way toward helping you and your feline friend get accepted.

Talk with Your New Landlord

When faced with a situation where your cat might not be allowed in your new rental space because of potential scratching damage, the first thing to do is talk calmly with your landlord. Follow these step-by-step talking points, and remain respectful, open, and friendly.

  • Explain to your landlord what a declaw surgery is. Many people have no idea that declawing is an amputation surgery of all of the toes up to the first joint. It's painful and can have lifelong effects on a cat. Not only are the claws removed, but nerves, tendons, blood vessels, and bone are severed. The cat then has to walk on these amputation sites. Several US cities and many countries have banned declawing as inhumane.
  • Let your landlord know about Soft Paws®. Your landlord may not know about Soft Paws® and how well they can work to deter cat scratching damage. Show the product to your landlord and explain how they cover your cat's claws, minimizing any damage that may occur to the home.
  • Share that declawing can result in other behavior problems. Declawing cats can lead to more undesirable behaviors in cats including litter box aversion. Cats that are declawed may begin to avoid the litter box because it hurts their toes so much to scratch around in the box soon after surgery. The aversion can then become permanent and result in urine damage to the carpets and floors in the home. Declawed cats also have an increased tendency to bite because they feel insecure. This could be a liability for you and your landlord.
  • Offer to host a meeting. Allow your new landlord the chance to meet your cat (assuming she is well-behaved and friendly with strangers). Show your landlord the Soft Paws® and explain how they work.
  • Share information about cats' claws with your landlord. Many people don't really know the basics about cats' claws and how they grow. Share information with your landlord. This is a good basic article to print and share: "Fascinating Facts About Cats' Claws." You can also contact us for Soft Paws® and declawing brochures.
  • Discuss that many major organizations do not support declawing. The Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals do not support declawing cats. Many people aren't aware that declawing is not a universally accepted procedure and, in fact, is opposed by many prominent organizations and people.
  • Be honest. Whatever you do, be honest with your landlord. Don't tell him or her that you don't have a cat if you do, and don't say she's declawed if she's not. You don't want to end up in trouble when your dishonesty if revealed and lose the recommendation of the landlord for your next cat-friendly rental.

You can print this great document to share with your new landlord, too: "Things Landlords Should Know Before Requiring a Tenant to Declaw Their Cat."

With some gentle education for your new landlord, responsibility and respect as a cat-owning tenant, and good old-fashioned conversation, you and your cat should be able to move into your dream rental soon, claws included. Not only that, but your efforts to share knowledge about cat scratching alternatives and the downside of declawing may change your new landlord's policies and save other cats from the damaging surgery.

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