I’m pretty amazed by how little people know about declawing cats. Maybe it’s the description – declawing. That sounds to me like the claws are removed, like removing fingernails, which actually would be pretty barbaric. Unfortunately, cat declawing is a bit more intense than that.
First though, let’s think about why cats claw objects. Cats scratch to play, mark their territory, maintain their nails, stretch, and for exercise. They are definitely not scratching your couch just to torment you. Yet, many people think it’s perfectly okay to have their cats declawed. Here’s the part where I explain the gory details behind this procedure.
Declawing involves 10 separate, painful amputations. Declawing a cat involves general anesthesia and amputation of the last joint of each toe, including the bones, not just the nail. It is a very serious operation. After surgery, the nails may grow back inside the paw, causing pain but remaining invisible to observers. Declawing results in a gradual weakening of leg, shoulder, and back muscles, and because of impaired balance caused by the procedure, declawed cats have to relearn to walk, much as a person would after losing his or her toes.
Dr. Jennifer Conrad wrote in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association that, “routine declawing (unlike sterilization) is never performed for the sake of the animal” and that as a veterinarian, she has “an obligation to do what is best for the animals and not what is most convenient for their owners.” England, Australia, Japan, and nearly two dozen countries ban or severely restrict declawing surgeries.
Here are some effective and compassionate alternatives to declawing:
- Provide scratching posts
- Trim your cat’s nails regularly – and cut only the TIP
- Cardboard scratching boxes! Our cat is a huge fan of these. Don’t forget to sprinkle a little catnip on top.
- Soft Paws nail caps are an ultra-chic non-toxic humane alternative to declawing
I beg of you – the next time you hear of someone who is talking about declawing their cat, please tell them why this is a terrible idea and let them know about these great alternatives!
Image courtesy of Flicker‘s The Commons