Guest Post: Declawing Truth

Reprinted with permission from Traci Cameron, volunteer with Coalition for Pet Protection, a nonprofit that seeks to change public attitudes, behaviors, and to gain a recognition that any level of overpopulation and animal abuse is unacceptable. Traci hosts her own blog Unleashed.

Some people believe that declawing a cat is not a harmful thing to do. They see it as an easy fix for destructive scratching.

At about 8 weeks of age is when a cat typically begins scratching. Cats don’t scratch for the purpose of destroying your furniture. Cats scratch to remove the dead husks from their claws, mark territory, and stretch their muscles. Cats, in the wild, use their claws to catch prey, defend themselves, and escape predators. House cats attack toys, climb, and scratch. Scratching is also a way for cats to mark their territory because they have scent glands on their paws. Scratching makes the cat feel at home and secure.

Words such as deform, disfigure, disjoint, and dismember all apply to declawing. It doesn’t matter how the surgery is preformed. Declawing is thought to be mutilation and can lead to an entirely different set of behavior problems.

Side Effects of Declawing

Stock Photo Flickr
Stock Photo Flickr

Often times with declawed cats using the litterbox is an issue. Many cats experience chronic pain following the surgical procedure. The litter irritates their paws. All litters, however, might not. You may have to change litters several times to find one that the cat is comfortable with.

Declawing can cause discomfort for the cat when walking.

There is a danger if your declawed cat was to ever get out of the house. Without front claws it is difficult for the cat to defend themselves.

Some cats can become nervous, defensive, and display unwanted temperament following the declaw procedure.

Infection is a risk during and after surgery because it’s difficult to sterilize the area.

If the surgery is not performed correctly the claw can grow back. If it doesn’t grow in properly it can cause an abscess.

Many owners, frustrated with these behaviors, take their cats to the shelter, have them euthanized, or turn them out into the streets to fend for themselves. This is punishing the cat for what the owner caused. There’s no reason for any of it when there are alternatives.

Alternatives to Declawing

Stock Photo WikiMedia
Stock Photo WikiMedia

A scratching post is something that all cat owners should have. See where your cat likes to scratch and put a post in those places. You should probably have more than one post in your home. There are a variety of posts available made from lots of different materials like carpet, sisal, wood, and cardboard. It is recommended to stay away from cheap vertical posts with a lightweight base. It might topple over when used which will result in the cat never wanting to use it again.

Vinyl nail caps such as Soft Claws are a successful alternative. The caps are put on with a surgical adhesive, but it must be applied properly so that toes aren’t glued together. If done properly the caps last about a month.

Trimming your cat’s nails weekly can also help a scratching problem.

Declawing is outlawed in dozens of countries except in cases when it’s medically necessary to remove nail bed tumors. Declawing involved the amputation of the last bone of each toe. If the cat were human it would be equivalent to cutting off each finger at the last knuckle.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

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