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Felinexpress.com home > Cat Care > Declawing You Cat

The Truth behind Declawing Your Cat

When you call a vet’s office and schedule your cat for a spay, or neuter, a common question is: “Would you also like your cat declawed?”

Many cat owners trusting their vet's recommendation will schedule a declawing without much thought. What the cat owner needs to do is research the topic first.

Declawing should never be done routinely.  There is nothing routine about the surgery which is why following the surgery; the vet will not release the cat for 24-48 hours. This is to spare the cat owner the agony of watching their cat bang their head against the cage in pain and confusion.

Cats’ claws are important. Claws are needed to help the cat maintain balance, mark their territory and defend themselves. Yes, they use their claws to “scratch”(sometimes this means your furniture). Why do they use the furniture when a good scratching post is sitting unused in the corner? Several reasons:

Your scent is on the furniture. They are placing their scent over yours, claiming you as theirs; this action is actually honoring you. They cannot understand why you are so upset. After all, every time they head-bump you, they are performing the same sort of act. You don’t get upset about that do you?

Furniture is stable. It doesn’t wobble. Go over to the cat scratcher and knock it with your hand lightly. See it wobble? Stabilize it and the cat will use it IF it is tall enough.

Cats scratch also to stretch their backs, if the objects can’t handle their weight, they will find something that does.

What is declawing?

  • Declawing is when the vet surgically removes the toenail along with the last joint where the claw would grow.
  • Declawing is a major surgery and a painful procedure for the cat.

The removal can be done by a scalpel, or by a laser.  But if your vet is not efficient in declawing, problems can result. Infection can set in if the incision isn’t properly sealed.

The cat can turn aggressive if the right pain control measures weren’t used during and after surgery.

In some cases, if the vet really botches the job, the claws can grow back.

There is a newer procedure called a flexor tendonectomy. This surgery leaves the claws intact but cuts off the tendon that allows the cat to sheathe and unsheathe its claws. But again, this is still a painful procedure and should only be performed in the most extreme of circumstances. Your leather couch or living room drapes should not constitute an extreme circumstance. After this procedure your cat’s claws will need to be routinely trimmed .

  • Declawing offers NO benefit to the cat.
  • Declawing  is strictly a human way of trying to control the natural behavior of cats.
  • Declawing is a fold-over from long ago when the Big Cats in the circuses and zoos were declawed.  Someone, somewhere decided, what is good for the wild cats has to also be good for the domestic ones.
  • The paws will stay tender for about a week or two after a declaw is performed.
  • Litter box filler should be soft, shredded paper, rabbit food (rabbit pellets). Litter box accidents and aversion can occur.
  • Cats need their claws to defend themselves. Take this weapon away from them, and they will resort to biting.

Are you moving to a building where the landlord only wants declawed cats? Then find a home for your clawed cat, and call the local animal shelter. Chances are good; they have several declawed cats in cages waiting for a home.

Check out Soft Paws. These are vinyl nail covers for cats claws. The casings  fit over the nail then are sealed in place. The cat can scratch and leave no marks.

If you have tried all the options out there, multiple scratching posts, clicker training to train your cat to scratch in the right places, cat condos, Soft Paws, clipping the nails yourself, and your clawed cat is still a problem, then be sure before you declaw this cat (and do front paws only) that the vet you choose is one skilled in the procedure.

Prepare yourself for possible behavior changes in your cat, litter box accidents, seeing your cat in pain for a while, and dealing with the problems that might develop after the surgery.

Understand that you have options. Here in our home, with multiple cats, we have clear sheets of acrylic on the corners of our couches. These corners are covered with the extra fabric that comes with any sofa and are virtually unnoticeable.  They work great to stop the cats from clawing.

If you have your cat declawed, your cat should never be let outside, or dumped off in a shelter because of behavior problems. If your cat does develop behavior problems due to declawing, take responsibility for your actions. After all in scratching his territory, the cat was only doing what comes naturally.

 

Mary Anne Miller is a freelance writer, website content provider and member of The Cat Writers’ Association. Her expertise lies in feral cat socialization, bottle babies and animal abuse issues.

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