To Declaw or Not to Declaw
Few topics are as highly charged for cat owners as declawing. Nearly every cat owner has thought about whether to declaw their cat. Before you decide whether declawing is appropriate for you and your pet, it’s important to know exactly what declawing entails, plus the reasons for and against it.
What does declawing entail?
There are two types of declawing techniques. Declawing involves removing the entire claw, which is part of the last bone in the cat’s toe. As pets.webmd.com explains, the most common technique involves removing the claw by cutting through the pad of the paw and the joint between two pieces of bone. Those pieces of bone, ligaments and tendons are are also removed. It’s often equated to cutting off a person’s fingertip to the last joint of the finger, since part of the bones in the paw is removed along with the claw. It typically can take several weeks for cats to fully recover from this procedure, since it can be painful for them to walk on their paws after being declawed.
The other technique is known as cosmetic declawing, which involves removing the claw and only a small piece of bone. The pad of the paw remains intact, unlike the previous method which slices through the pad. Cats tend to recover more quickly from cosmetic declawing, since it is less invasive and doesn’t require removing as much bone in the paw as the more common method. However, cosmetic declawing is more difficult and time consuming to perform, so not as many veterinarians offer to do it.
Why shouldn’t you declaw your cat?
Many pet owners refuse to declaw their cats because of the pain it causes. There is also the possibility that complications can arise as a result of declawing surgery. According to declawing.com, possible post-declawing complications include infection, damage to the radial nerve, hemorrhaging, bone chips that prevent healing, painful regrowth of deformed claws inside the paw, chronic back and joint pain, and the weakening of muscles in the shoulder, leg and back. Also, many people personally feel that it’s unnatural and unfair to declaw simply to keep their cat from scratching furniture or other objects in their home.
Why should you declaw your cat?
In some cases, it is necessary to declaw in the interest of the cat’s health or the health of its owner. For instance, a cat’s claws may need to be removed because of a tumor. Or some owners may have a compromised immune system, and it would be dangerous if they were exposed to the bacteria on a cat’s claws if they are scratched. Many people argue that if it comes down to getting rid of your cat or declawing it, it’s a better option to declaw so you can keep your pet.
What are some alternatives to declawing?
Ther are several easy and humane alternatives to declawing. If preserving your furniture is your main concern, buy a scratch post. Scratch posts are an excellent way to entice your cat to scratch somewhere other than your furniture. Start training your cat as a kitten to use it so they avoid scratching other things. Adult cats are typically harder to train, so the sooner you start doing this with your kitten, the better and more effective it is.
Check out Proper Pet’s selection of scratch posts.
You can also purchase a nail trimmer or filer. Many pet owners argue that periodically filing or trimming their cats’ claws is more effective and humane than declawing. Plus, you can find many affordable and easy-to-use trimmers and filers. If you are concerned about your cat becoming agitated while you file or trim their nails, there are things you can do to calm them. Approach your cat calmly and pet him, paying special attention to his paws. Be sure to trim/file when your cat is sleepy and relaxed, not when he is playful or agitated. Then give him a couple of treats so he is in a relaxed, happy mood before you trim/file his claws. A useful tip is to only give him treats when you trim/file his claws so he gradually looks forward to your trimming/filing sessions. After you trim/file each claw, pause to pet him or give him a treat. That way he understands this is a calming, positive experience and there’s no reason for him to react negatively. If that method doesn’t work, you can always have someone hold your cat as you trim/file his claws. Remember to trim/file on a regular basis. Trimming and filing consistently will help your cat become accustomed to it, which will put him more at ease.
There are multiple alternatives to declawing. Though it is a relatively common process, it’s not necessarily the best choice for your cat. Unless you or your cat have health issues that warrant declawing, there are a number of safer, less expensive and less painful ways to contain your cat’s claws.