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Declawing, just say no!

Updated: Jun 4, 2022

If you are thinking of declawing a cat or a veterinarian suggests declawing at the same time as neutering, you may want to consider these arguments against the procedure. Consider changing your vet if they endorse this barbaric procedure.


Declawing isn't just Nail Trimming

Declawing not like a manicure, Onychectomy is the surgical amputation of the first joint of the cat's toes.


Whether this partial digital amputation is accomplished with a scalpel, a guillotine-type cutter or a laser, it is major surgery, and not to be undertaken lightly.




In the past, many vets and clinic staff deliberately misinformed and mislead clients into believing that declawing removes only the claws in the hopes that clients are left with the impression that the procedure is a "minor" surgery comparable to spay/neuter procedures and certainly doesn't involve amputation (partial or complete) of the terminal-toe bone, ligaments and tendons. Declawing is an inhumane act, no cat-lover would ever do it. If your vet even entertains the idea, ditch them and find a new vet immediately.


The veterinary justification for declawing is that the owner may otherwise dispose of the cat, perhaps cruelly. It is ethically inappropriate, in the long term, for veterinarians to submit to this form of moral blackmail from their clients.

“The inhumanity of the procedure is clearly demonstrated by the nature of cats' recovery from anesthesia following the surgery. Unlike routine recoveries, including recovery from neutering surgery, which are fairly peaceful, declawing surgery results in cats bouncing off the walls of the recovery cage because of excruciating pain. Cats that are more stoic huddle in the corner of the recovery cage, immobilized in a state of helplessness, presumably by overwhelming pain. Declawing fits the dictionary definition of mutilation to a tee."

Your cat should trust you, and depend upon you for protection. Don't betray that trust by declawing your cat.



Declawing is painful surgery

Think of it as 10 amputations (if only the front feet are declawed). Pain meds may help initially, but phantom pain may last for weeks or months as nerve endings heal. While a cat will likely bounce back quickly from surgery after neutering, the pain from declawing can be excruciating for the animal, and lead to serious behavioural issues.


Complications

The rate of complication is relatively high compared with other so-called routine procedures. Complications of this amputation can be excruciating pain, damage to the radial nerve, hemorrhage, bone chips that prevent healing, painful re-growth of deformed claw inside of the paw which is not visible to the eye, and chronic back and joint pain as shoulder, leg and back muscles weaken. Other complications include postoperative hemorrhage, either immediate or following bandage removal is a fairly frequent occurrence, paw ischemia, lameness due to wound infection or footpad laceration, exposure necrosis of the second phalanx, and abscess associated with retention of portions of the third phalanx.



Declawing does nothing to benefit the Cat

Unlike neutering, which does benefit the cat, both healthwise and behavior wise, declawing simply does nothing positive for the cat. It's most often done as a matter of selfish convenience to its owner with long-term pain for the cat.




Psychological & Behavioral Complications

Some cats are so shocked by declawing that their personalities change. Cats that were lively and friendly have become withdrawn and introverted after being declawed. Others, deprived of their primary means of defense, become nervous, fearful, and/or aggressive, often resorting to their only remaining means of defense, their teeth. In some cases, when declawed cats use the litter box after surgery, their feet are so tender they associate their new pain with the box...permanently, resulting in a life-long aversion to using the litter box.


"The consequences of declawing are often pathetic. Changes in behavior can occur. A de-clawed cat frequently resorts to biting when confronted with even minor threats. Chronic physical ailments such as cystitis or skin disorders can be manifestations of a de-clawed cat's frustration and stress"


Declawing may lead to litterbox issues

Cats naturally are inclined to use their claws to bury their waste, which is why most take to using a litter box relatively quickly. Digging in litter or any other substance is painful for a declawed cat, and they'll likely associate the pain with the litter box itself. That may mean they avoid using the litter box altogether.




Declawing often leads to biting problems

When cats lose their ability to give a quick warning scratch, they will often resort to their second line of defense: their teeth. Be prepared for a declawed cat to resort to biting when it feels defenseless or otherwise in danger. The lack of claws makes many cats feel so insecure that they tend to bite more often as a means of self-protection.



Cats Need the Exercise Their Claws and Toes Provide

Watch a cat stretch, whether horizontally on a carpet or vertically with a tall scratching post. It will grab the carpet or sisal with its claws, using the resistance to pull and stretch its muscles. Cats' claws actually play a large and positive role in their muscle tone and agility.




Altering Your Cat's Gait May Lead to Later Joint Problems

Domestic cats are digitigrade, meaning they walk on their toes. Removing the toe's first digit will alter the way your catwalks​ and may affect the joints in its leg. This may eventually lead to your cat developing arthritis in its hip and other joints. So removing its claws can be seriously detrimental to your cat's long-term health.



Declawing Robs a Cat of its Chief Weapon of Defense

A typical counter-argument is, "My cat is indoors only." Even indoor cats sometimes manage to escape. A declawed cat does not stand a chance against a large dog, a bigger cat, or a predator. Although it still has teeth, a declawed cat would need to get close to a predator to bite it, at which point it may already be too late.


What You can do instead:

  • Trim your cat’s nails regularly. When the cat is relaxed and unafraid, gently press on his or her toes until the claws extend. Use a pair of nail clippers, and cut only the tip of the nail, taking care not to damage the vein, or “quick.” The nail hook is what tears upholstery, so removing it virtually eliminates the potential for damage.

  • Buy multiple scratching posts. Ideally, you should have two or more scratching posts in your home. Make sure that they’re sturdy and tall enough to allow your cat to stretch (3 feet or taller). Soft, fluffy carpeted posts won’t fulfill your cat’s clawing needs, so look for rougher posts. If you invest in Catification, you will see concrete results.

  • Teach your cat where to scratch and where not to scratch. Encourage your cat to use the scratching posts by sprinkling catnip on the posts once a week. Discourage your cat from scratching furniture by using a loud, firm voice whenever he or she starts to scratch—cats don’t like loud noises! Never use physical force. There are also products on the market, such as double-sided sticky tape that will deter your cat from scratching in unwanted places.



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