Onychectomy, or declawing as it is more commonly called, has become very controversial as of late; with some veterinarians considering it a common place surgery while others will flat out refuse to perform the surgery. The rest tend to weigh the benefits and risks before considering it.
Scratches and ruined furniture can cause quite a riff between cat and owner, but let’s take a look at what having your cat declawed entails.
Anatomy of a Cat’s Claws
Cats claws grow from a part of the bone called the ungual crest. Imagine your finger at the fingertip, where your nail grows out from the nail bed. Same concept.
The only way to prevent the claw from growing back is to remove the ungual crest, literally cutting of the fingertip of the cat. This is done in different ways, depending on your veterinarian. The most common methods are by scalpel, laser, or guillotine trimmers; afterwards the skin is glued and stitched back together over the joint.
Your veterinarian will then send your cat home with post-op care instructions. Your cat’s feet may be bandaged. Your cat will obviously be very sore and may be prescribed pain medication. The cat will most likely stumble quite a bit, wanting to keep any weight off of its feet, and will also need to learn to regain his balance after having a part of his anatomy removed.
There Are Risks
Some cats may develop problems after having their claws removed. They could get an infection, the glue may have to be removed or worse, some of the bone might not have been removed. If this occurs it is quite painful, can cause recurrent infection, and will have to be removed by an additional surgery.
Many cats develop behavioral problems after being declawed, including litter box and biting problems.
Also, it is important that this procedure is only performed on indoor cats. Completely indoor cats. If the cat has no claws and is let outside, it would not be able to defend itself against dogs or any other animals or situation.
There Are Alternatives
There are alternatives to declawing your cat. Invest in a good scratching post and properly train the cat to use it. Clip the tips of your cat’s claws or use claw covers, known as Soft Paws, to help reduce scratching. Remember that scratching to a cat is natural and you as an owner have a responsibility to help your cat direct it in a healthy way.
You should not have a cat if you want to declaw it.. my friend has rescued a 10 yr. old declawed cat and he cannot jump up properly, because he had not used his front body muscles properly… and they are underdeveloped.. it is mutilation.. if he is lost outside, he will not be able to defend him/herself, or catch food.. get them cat scratching things… you don’t pull a dog’s teeth out if you don’t want it to chew when it is a puppy.. take some time with your pet.. teach him and love it for what god made it to be…
i never want or plan to declaw my cats even if they scratch everything..they are more important than the material things inside our house!
So glad you all feel this way – I feel like declawing is amputation!
I have to leave an alternate reply. My husband and I have two cats that have had their front claws removed. They are strictly indoor cats. We had this done for two reasons. First, we had a cat, SEC, that we adopted as an adult, and he was already declawed in the front. He never showed any sign of pain, was never reluctant to use his litter box, and he jumped and played normally.
When he was older, we adopted a kitten, Katie. At first we weren’t going to have her declawed, but she was scratching SEC and he was unable to discourage her, so we had her declawed in the front. She has never shown any sign of pain and jumps and plays normally. When she was about 18 months old, we had to have SEC put to sleep. Katie was unable to be alone in the house; her anxiety caused her to chew woodwork and cry, so we quickly adopted a male kitten, Sparky, and had him declawed too. He also jumps and plays normally.
SEC, Katie and Sparky all behaved as cats normally do; they have never missed their front claws. Of course we keep them indoors. They are energetic, loving, playful cats. Some cats may suffer pain from declawing, but I would attribute that more to the vet who does the procedure; some may not be as careful as others. Out vet is a loving, careful doctor who has a special fondness for cats. If declawing was as evil as it is made out to be, he would not do it.
Our second reason for declawing is that I must take blood thinner every day. A deep scratch can lead to a trip to the hospital. Declawing lessens the chance of that happening. It may not be the ideal choice for cats, but my experience with several cats over many years has shown that declawing is not the evil so many make it out to be.
I will never declaw a cat again.
when my cat was a kitten she tore up some brand new window blinds while chasing moths.
my friend said she had to go and the only way I was able to keep her was to declaw her.
she is still alive and playing but I have had litter box problems. sometimes I just watch her and I know she misses her claws. I will take good care of her for the rest of her life but will never declaw another cat.
I’m sorry to hear that your kitty is still having problems with her declawing, Jennifer. I’m also happy that you plan to take good care of her. We live and learn 🙂
I have 2 cats. Summer & Smokey. Declawing is an unnecessary procedure. It’s like humans getting their fingers & toes cut off. R Lord & Savior make front claws on kitties 4 a reason.