Monday, February 23, 2015
Should I Declaw My Cat?
BY: Laurie Brzostowski, President, Snaggle Foot Dog Walks and Pet Care-Round Lake, IL
Because I am in the pet care business I pet sit for cats who have claws and some that do not. However, because I personally do not own a cat, I wanted to get some information on what declawing a cat involves.
This is actually starting to get some notice around the country and in fact, New York may be the first state to actually ban declawing of cats.
Many countries have banned declawing. 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.
So here is some information about what declawing a cat entails so you can make the right decision for the cat and not for your furniture.
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. 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.
What is declawing?
Too often, people think that declawing is a simple surgery that removes a cat's nails—the equivalent of having your fingernails trimmed. Sadly, this is far from the truth. 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. It is an unnecessary surgery that provides no medical benefit to the cat. Educated pet parents can easily train their cats to use their claws in a manner that allows everyone in the household to live together happily.
How is a cat declawed?
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.
Some negative effects of declawing
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.
I am not a cat owner, but personally, I cannot imagine putting my fur baby through something is painful. This blog post is for information only and is not to deter anyone who is considering this type of surgery but now that you know the facts about what actually happens, hopefully everyone will just think it through before having this procedure done.