Cat declawing in the United States is a controversial topic. With many people and organizations, including the Humane Society, leading the way in actively fighting against the procedure, some associations say that declawing your cat can be okay, if it’s done for medical reasons.
That still leaves the question: Is declawing your cat okay?
There may be some misconceived notions about what declawing is exactly. For those who are unsure about the procedure, we’ll take a closer look at what it is and potential side effects.
What Is The Cat Declawing Procedure?
Unlike some may think, declawing involves removing more than just the nail. Essentially, declawing a cat is like removing the tip of a finger. The joint that connects the tip of the bone in a cat’s toe to the bigger bone is severed, and the tip is removed.
Rather than a mere nail-trimming procedure, it is a surgical amputation.
The Humane Society says, “If performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle.”
When Is Declawing Considered?
Some people consider declawing when they feel their cat’s scratching behavior has gotten out of control. Ruined furniture and scratches to the skin have caused some owners to consider declawing.
However, there are many alternatives to controlling kitty’s scratching. Not to mention, a kitten at eight weeks old is the ideal time to start training a cat how to use the scratch pole.
In other cases, declawing is recommended when a cat has a tumor near the claw. If that’s the problem, declawing is most likely necessary to fully remove the tumor.
Is It Painful?
Like with any surgery, declawing can be painful, and infection at the wound site is a possibility. Antibiotics are often prescribed, as well as the advisement to keep the wound covered.
What Are Some Side Effects?
Apart from pain and infection, if the surgery is not done properly, the claws may try to grow back, which can lead to abscesses and severe pain. Nerve damage may be another result of a surgery gone wrong.
Your Cat Cannot Go Outside
Pets.WebMD gives a clear and resounding “No” to answer the question of whether cats venture outside after a declawing procedure. Kitty’s claws are a first line of defense, and if they’re removed, sending her into the great outdoors without her normal defense mechanism can be dangerous.
Are Behavior Changes Common?
This subject is debated. The Humane Society claims there may be behavioral changes after such a procedure. Because Princess no longer has her claws to defend herself, she may take up the habit of biting. In addition, using the litter box can become painful on the paws right after surgery, and kitty may shy away from using it, which can develop into a long-lasting behavior change.
Pets.WebMD argues the opposite, and says there have been no studies that support behavior changes.
This topic is still debated. In 2001, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association wrote that, “It is a common maxim among animal shelter workers that declawed cats in shelters have a different demeanor than nondeclawed cats, possibly attributable to behavioral frustration or chronic pain, and are likelier to have inappropriate elimination.”
On the flip side of that, other studies suggest there is no behavioral changes associated with the procedure, including “Feline Behavior Problems: The Influence of Declawing.”
What Are Alternatives To Declawing?
If the main reason someone wants to declaw their cat is because of scratching, there are many alternatives available.
Eight weeks old is the perfect time to start training kitty to scratch the scratching pole, not your furniture.
Keep Multiple Scratch Posts Around the House
Having multiple scratch posts with different materials (carpet, cardboard, etc.) can be a great way to keep kitty from boredom. It provides multiple surfaces to scratch, and if she seems uninterested, try dousing it with some catnip.
Trim Her Nails
Just like dogs, you can trim your cat’s nails to help keep them short so her scratching is less destructive.
Use Soft Claws or Vinyl Nail Caps
Nail caps can be glued onto your cat’s nails by your veterinarian, and generally need replacement every six weeks or so.
Of course, if kitty has a tumor and declawing becomes medically necessary, talking to your veterinarian is the first step before making any drastic decisions.
We hope you were able to learn more about the truth behind declawing your kitten, and the seriousness of the procedure. It’s not just a minor manicure.
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