Declawing cats: far worse than a manicure!
People often think that declawing their cats is a quick fix for unwanted scatching... but that couldn't be further from the truth.
Declawing can make a cat less likely to use the litter box or more likely to bite. Declawing also can cause lasting physical problems for your cat.
Many countries have banned declawing, sadly not the entrie U.S. at this time. The Humane Society of the United States opposes declawing except for the rare cases when it is necessary for medical purposes, such as the removal of cancerous nail bed tumors.
That being said, declawing your cat is on the verge of animal abuse. We feel very strongly about it. And we're here to educate you so you know how awful it is for your fur companion.
What is declawing?
Declawing traditionally involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe. If performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle.
The standard method of declawing is amputating with a scalpel or guillotine clipper. The wounds are closed with stitches or surgical glue, and the feet are bandaged.
Another method is laser surgery, in which a small, intense beam of light cuts through tissue by heating and vaporizing it. However, it's still the amputation of the last toe bone of the cat and carries with it the same long-term risks of lameness and behavioral problems as does declawing with scalpels or clippers.
A third procedure is the tendonectomy, in which the tendon that controls the claw in each toe is severed. The cat keeps his claws, but can't control them or extend them to scratch. This procedure is associated with a high incidence of abnormally thick claw growth. Therefore, more frequent and challenging nail trims are required to prevent the cat's claws from snagging on people, carpet, furniture, and drapes, or from growing into the cat's paw pads.
Because of complications, a cat who has been given a tendonectomy may require declawing later. Although a tendonectomy is not actually amputation, a 1998 study published in the "Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association" found the incidence of bleeding, lameness, and infection was similar between tendonectomy and declawing.
Negative effects of declawing
The surgeries themselves and the healing post surgery is no walk in the park and can be incredible painful for your cat.
Medical drawbacks to declawing include pain in the paw, infection, tissue necrosis (tissue death), lameness, and back pain. Removing claws changes the way a cat's foot meets the ground and can cause pain similar to wearing an uncomfortable pair of shoes. There can also be a regrowth of improperly removed claws, nerve damage, and bone spurs.
For several days after surgery, shredded newspaper is typically used in the litter box to prevent litter from irritating declawed feet. This unfamiliar litter substitute, accompanied by pain when scratching in the box, may lead cats to stop using the litter box. Some cats may become biters because they no longer have their claws for defense.
Mental health can also be impacted. Think if you had your knuckles cut off, and you couldn't perform your daily routines as easily before. That would seriously suck, right? The same goes for your kitty. This can lead to depression in cats and set off another wave of issues.
The truth about cats and scratching
Scratching is normal cat behavior!
It isn't done to destroy a favorite chair or to get even. Cats scratch to remove the dead husks from their claws, mark territory, and stretch their muscles. Cats are usually about 8 weeks old when they begin scratching. That's the ideal time to train kittens to use a scratching post and allow nail trims.
Pet caregivers should not consider declawing a routine prevention for unwanted scratching. Declawing can actually lead to an entirely different set of behavior problems that may be worse than shredding the couch as mentioned above.
Tips to get your cat not to claw up your home
It's important to remember that accidents happen. Like children, and ourselves of course, we break and damage things all the time. Bringing your cat into your home just because you think it's cute is the wrong attitude. A cat will become part of your family. And, like any member of your family, you can't disown them just because they spill a glass of milk.
Of course we understand that you don't want your things scratched up - curtains, couch, furniture and so forth. Neither do we!
So, here are some tips to prevent unwanted scratchings.
Keep claws trimmed to minimize damage to household items. Most vets can do that for you if you ask.
Provide stable scratching posts and boards around your home. Offer different materials like carpet, sisal, wood, and cardboard, as well as different styles (vertical and horizontal). Use toys and catnip to entice your cat to use the posts and boards.
Ask your veterinarian about soft plastic caps (like Soft Paws®) that are glued to the cat's nails. They need to be replaced about every six weeks.
Attach a special tape (like Sticky Paws®) to furniture to deter your cat from unwanted scratching.
Learn some more ways by visiting the Humane Society website.
Declawing and tendonectomies should be reserved only for those rare cases in which a cat has a medical problem that would warrant such surgery, such as the need to remove cancerous nail bed tumors.
So, unless there's an extreme and rare medical emergency as mentioned (and this is the only last resort)- DON'T DECLAW YOUR CAT!!!!!
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