If you’ve ever owned a cat, declawing has probably crossed your mind.
But is declawing the answer? From kittens to older adopted cats, they all like to use their claws. Some may have torn your couch to shreds and others may have accidentally, or purposefully, sunk their razor sharp claws into your leg.
On those occasions, declawing seems like a viable solution.
Not only is declawing a bad idea, it also shouldn’t be considered a solution, because it definitely isn’t the only option, as many owners believe.
According to an article written by veterinarian Christianne Schelling, declawing cats is “pretty much an American thing,” and is done for convenience of the owner without taking the cat into consideration. England has deemed declawing “inhumane” and an “unnecessary mutilation”; rightfully so once you look into the specifics of the procedure.
To understand the procedure, called onychectomy, you first have to understand the anatomy of the cat’s foot and claw.
The claw grows from a section of “knuckle” bone at the end of each toe. To successfully remove the cat’s claw, you must remove not only the claw, but also part or all of the bone from which it grows. I
f you do not remove all of this, the claw can grow back, but will do so abnormally and could cause even larger medical problems, including infection and abscess growth.
There are two different ways to remove claws.
The first being to remove just the claw and a tiny portion of the bone it grows out of. The second is a “guillotine” procedure that essentially removes the entire bone that the claw grows out of.
The first procedure, deemed “cosmetic” has a recovery time of within a week. The second procedure could take two to three weeks of recovery time. Regardless of recovery time, the cat still needs to use all feet which creates unnecessary pain, potential infection, and severe discomfort.
The more invasive of the two procedures sometimes ends up cutting into the paw pad, which would be comparable to removing a portion of our fingertip.
Cutting into the paw pad also opens the door for even more pain, and infection again, as the toe and claw of a cat harbors a lot of bacteria, and isn’t an area that can be sterilized.
Declawing is controversial.
There are multiple viewpoints and debates circulating the veterinary and public population. Some prefer it, while others wish for it to be illegal as it is in other countries.
A declawed cat can never be an outdoor cat. Claws are a cat’s main defense against predators, whether it is to injure or escape from predators; without claws, your cat becomes prey.
There are multiple other solutions for a cat with scratching problems. Training kittens at a young age to use a scratching post is the best option, but not always possible if you adopt or have an older cat with predisposed scratching behaviors.
If you have a cat that is scratching people or attacking, that is a bigger problem that needs to be resolved. Removing the nails won’t help in that case.
Giving a cat plenty of areas where they can scratch is a necessary part of cat ownership. Scratching is a natural behavior for cats because that is how they sharpen their claws in the wild, and in our homes. Even if you trim your cat’s nails regularly, they will still need to scratch to keep their nails healthy.
For cats that have shown training isn’t an option or aren’t responding well, there are caps for their nails. These caps are safe and slide over the nail so that the scratching doesn’t cause any damage to furniture or house guests.
Declawing should only be done if medically necessary, as it is a highly invasive and uncomfortable procedure. If there was a growth or issue with the bone and claw itself that was affecting the cats quality of life, only then should declawing be considered.
For more information on the procedure and facts, check out the links below: