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Should you declaw your cats?

Updated on December 28, 2011
This is a diagram of the cats claw showing where the bone is cut off.
This is a diagram of the cats claw showing where the bone is cut off.
Cozy kitty rocking some SoftPaws. (They also come in clear)
Cozy kitty rocking some SoftPaws. (They also come in clear)

Declawing is actually an American thing. In European countries is it actually illegal and considered “unnecessary mutilation”. Declawing is not a simple procedure, it is actually surgery. The cat claw is attached so closely to the bone that declawing the cat actually requires removal of the last bone in each toe, it would be like having surgery to remove each of your fingers at the last knuckle. Cats personalities also tend to change after being declawed although the medical community does not consider this a “side-effect” and therefore does not disclose this to you before the procedure. That being said, let’s look at some of the side effects.


Side effects of declawing:

Hemmorhaging following the bandage removal is a very common side-effect and can end up leading to lameness in the paws. The surgery can also result in bone chips leading the wound to not close properly and can be extremely painful to cats. Another common side effect is the regrowth of a deformed claw inside the skin. This can also cause severe pain and is undetectable by the eye. In a recent veterinary journal it was released that 50% of cats have side effects immediately after the surgery and another 20% have complications from the surgery later on. Cats also can develop extreme sensitivity on the foot pads as a result of the amputation which can cause them to refuse to use a litter box later on in life because the litter is painful to walk on and scratch. The cat will also suffer from a lack of it's normal ability to balance.

Safer alternatives:

Nail Trimming

Nail trimming is a much less stressful way to contain your cats claws. Cats nails have no color to them so it is pretty easy to do. Just make sure you ONLY cut to where you cannot see a blood vessel. It's very easy to train your cat to let you trim her nails. The few times may be a bit difficult but give her some love and treats afterwards and she'll catch on quickly.

Train, train, train!

Give your cat something to scratch on! If your cat has plenty to scratch on that she does not get sprayed with a water bottle for then she will stop using other surfaces. Get your cat a cat board of a scratching post. If you get a scratching post I'd suggest getting one that is not covered in carpet or it will teach the cat to scratch on carpeted surfaces. I recommend cat boards, the are cardboard boards designed for cats that they just love to attack.

SoftPaws:

These are the little plastic nail caps that you see in the pet stores. The main problem with them is that they do have to be replaced every few weeks. They are very cheap and come in some cute colors. They do not stop a cat from being able to use it's claws for scratching itself and they can still be retracted. You can also take the cat to your local vet and they will apply them for you. The blunt tips keep the cat from being able to scratch holes in anything. They come in 4 sizes and allow the cat to still fufill it's instinctual need to scratch.


As you can see there are many medical reasons not to declaw your cat and many safe alternatives. If you have any other questions on the subject or if yu want more info on declawing contact your vet. They'd bemore than happy to answer your questions (usually over the phone)!



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    • Rosie writes profile image

      Rosie writes 5 years ago from Virginia

      Great article! I have never believed in declawing. I always have one of those cardboard scratcher things ($5) and my cat has never damaged anything in my home.

    • kruney profile image
      Author

      Karen R 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      I love those things, they are cheap and cats LOVE them. Only downside - vacuuming.

    • Cat R profile image

      Cat R 5 years ago from North Carolina, U.S.

      I agree! It is unnecessary! I adopted a declawed Tomcat that almost got euthanized because declawing left him feel helpless and unable to defend himself. He turned to biting in defense and was 'gotten rid of' by his owner. He remained very distrusting and would go through great length to escape to the outside. He loved being outside, despite our attempts to keep him safely inside. One day he escaped again and didn't come back. I never saw him again!

      I rather replace or fix something than cause my animals pain or put them in danger!

    • kruney profile image
      Author

      Karen R 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      I agree. A life is worth more to me than a couch. I'm sorry to see your baby ran away. But it makes me happy to know that people will still adopt "unwanted" cats who have been abandoned by the people they trust to care for them.

    • Esmeowl12 profile image

      Cindy A. Johnson 5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      No, no, no! Never declaw a cat.

    • kruney profile image
      Author

      Karen R 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      I agree. Until I started researching it for this hub i never knew they actually removed BONE. That's just awful.

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