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Declawing: Why You Shouldn’t

Cats bring such joy to our lives and provide us a love like no one can imagine. As much as we love our pets, sometimes they do things or ruin things that they shouldn’t. It can be pretty frustrating and costly, depending on what your cat happens to ruin. There are some cases where cats have torn and ripped up full-on pieces of furniture. However frustrating this may be for us humans, we have to remember that our beloved pets are still animals, and they will act as such.

It is wildly popular for people to “declaw” their precious cats simply because they don’t want to be scratched when they play with them. Declawing is very common in North America and it is done for a human’s convenience without regard for their animal. Declawing is illegal in many European countries and is considered an act of animal cruelty. People often mistake and believe that declawing their cats is harmless, and it’s a good fix for unwanted scratching. Some apartment buildings in the U.S. actually ban cats unless they have been declawed. The American Academy of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) strongly opposes the practice and prefers that veterinarians provide alternatives to the surgery.

What is Declawing?

Declawing, also known as onychectomy, is an operation that is performed to remove an animal’s claws by amputating all or a part of the distal phalanges of the animal’s toes. This is not as simple as cutting down fingernails or simply removing nails. Amputation of the bone is necessary to fully remove the claw. During surgery, doctors will amputate the distal phalanges of the toes on the front paws, and even in some cases, the back paws. If this similar surgery were to be performed on a human, it would be like removing their finger at the last knuckle. The operation provides no benefit to the cat, only the human.

If surgery is performed, there is a painful recovery period, which is why declawing is considered an inhumane act. During the time of recuperation after surgery, the cat still has to be able to use its paws to walk, jump, and use the litter box.

Declawing After Effects

After a cat has been declawed, it will suffer great pain but will still have to do its daily duties such as using the litter box. What many people do not realize is that declawing a cat can make the cat less likely to use the litter box and make them more likely to bite because they no longer have claws for defense. Also, declawing can lead to an entirely different set of behavior problems than can eventually be worse than shredding a piece of furniture.

Not only can behavioral problems arise, but the physical issues that can take place can be very problematic for your pet. When a claw is removed, the way a cat’s foot walks on the ground changes. It can cause a pain similar to wearing extremely uncomfortable shoes that they will never be able to take off. Some medical drawbacks include pain in the paw, lameness, infection, tissue death, nerve damage, bone spurs, and even back pain. A cat will also be deprived of its means of defense if and when it goes outdoors. Declawing leaves cats vulnerable to predators.

We hope you learned a lot about declawing and why you shouldn’t declaw your cats. Do not subject your cat to any unnecessary procedures. Love your cats for all that they are, including their claws. If you have any questions regarding declawing, please feel free to give us a call. If you would like to set up an appointment with us, please check out our Brookhurst Animal Medical Center website.