Cats scratch. And kids, spouses and roommates break things. Stuff happens to our possessions--but they can be replaced. Once you declaw your cat, there’s no turning back. The pet who loves you unconditionally, who you pledged to love and protect in return, will be scarred and in pain for life. Many people think declawing is the same as a manicure. It's not.
Declawing is actually amputationof the last bone of each toe. It’s the same as having your fingers cut off at the last knuckle. Laser surgery is touted as more humane. That's false; it's just more expensive. Laser cuts through tissue with post-operative pain and the same disability a scalpel causes.
Tenectomy (tendonectomy) severs the tendons that extend the toes so the claws can’t retract; they’re useless to the cat. The incidence of bleeding, lameness and infection is similar to that of conventional declawing. And tenectomy creates additional problems: Because it leaves cats unable to maintain their claws, you’ll have to continually trim them or they’ll grow into the paw pads causing infection and extreme pain.
The irony is, trimming claws makes declawing and tenectomy unnecessary in the first place!
ME-OUCH!!! Veterinary specialists say declawing is the most painful procedure a cat can undergo. "After declaw surgery, cats wake up in excruciating pain, sometimes bouncing off the wall of the recovery cage in their agony," according to Nicholas Dodman, BMVS, DACVB, DACVA, author of The Cat Who Cried for Help. "Vets sometimes give post-operative analgesics--but these, even if effective, only last so long and then the pain returns."
LIFELONG SUFFERING WHETHER YOU REALIZE IT OR NOT Cats are stoic, often suffering in silence. But just because you don’t have to deal with their pain doesn’t mean they don’t. Jennifer Conrad, DVM, says declawing can result in:
Chronic infection from abnormal nail regrowth under the skin.
Atrophied paw pads that no longer protect each step, exposing the remaining bone.
Lifelong muscle and joint pain. While most mammals walk on the soles of their paws or feet, cats walk on their toes, which help feet meet the ground at a precise angle to keep the legs, back and shoulders aligned. Declawed paws meet the ground at an unnatural angle that can cause chronic pain.
Phantom pain. Just as some human amputees experience this, some cats do too.
Jefferson, a purebred Himalayan. was found wandering the streets, starving, terrified...and four-paw declawed.
TRADING SCRATCHING FOR OTHER BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS Declawing can create other problems, according to feline behaviorist Alana Stevenson, MS, BCCAB, CSAMT. Biting is one. And so is litter box avoidance. "Declawed kitties will tend to orient to carpet or softer surfaces rather than litter," Stevenson says. She adds that declawing also inhibits play, which is important for pleasure, health and as a bonding experience between cats and their humans. Instead of fun, it becomes frustrating because "a kitty who is declawed cannot grab onto toys."
WHY DECLAWED CATS END UP IN SHELTERS--OR DEAD Incredibly, some people allow cats outside--or kitty dashes out an open door--after they’re declawed, defenseless against predators. Other folks surrender, euthanize or kick their cats to the curb when they express the chronic pain suffered post-declaw by biting or avoiding the litterbox.
HOW TO HAVE YOUR SOFA AND A HAPPY CAT TOO Cats scratch for a variety of reasons, from self-defense to stress relief. It’s cruel to take this important function away from them, especially with painful, mutilating surgery! Instead, you might choose furniture covered in tightly woven fabric; it’s less interesting for cats to sink their claws into. Or try scratching posts, nail caps, sticky tape or boundary sprays.
You say your cat won't use the scratching post? You might have purchased the wrong type or put it in the wrong place. Yes, it does make a difference! This page on managing scratching has everything you need to know to keep your cat happy and your sofa pristine (unless you spill something on it!).
But at the end of the day, if furnishings are more important than those who love you unconditionally and trust you to protect them, don’t have pets.