Pets

5 reasons you shouldn't declaw your cat

By: Linda Cotrina

Getty Images Author: Linda Cotrina

Pets

5 reasons you shouldn't declaw your cat

By: Linda Cotrina

Your cat's claws are purrfect just the way they are. Check out our tips for managing her nails without resorting to declawing.


Twenty or thirty years ago, declawing was a routine part of getting a new cat or kitten, but with the evolution of veterinary medicine, more and more veterinarians are shunning the painful procedure. “It became evident that these declawed cats were becoming crippled and living in agony,” says Dr. Sarah Machell, a veterinarian at the North Oakville Animal Hospital in Oakville, Ont. “Declawing puts the cat through incredible discomfort, during the surgical period and long term. For us as a hospital, it was a moral decision to stop being part of that cruelty,” she says.

In spite of all the information available about the controversial procedure, some pet owners still go through with it because a claw-free cat is more convenient.

We believe your cat is purrfect just the way she is. Here’s why you shouldn’t resort to declawing.

1. It’s a form of amputation.
A cat's claws grow from a bud of cells that’s embedded in the last bone of each toe. “In order to declaw, the nail bud has to be removed which is essentially the amputation of the last joint of each digit in order to remove the nail and nail bud,” says Dr. Machell. It is equivalent to having your fingers cut off at the first knuckle.

2. It can create long-term pain.
Cats are in a great deal of pain upon recovery from anesthetic and the recovery process can be quite brutal, says Dr Machell. Long-term complications such as advanced arthritis, chronic pain and overall dysfunction are risks that cats can develop as a result of declawing.

3. Their claws are their first line of defense.
Outdoor cats face an even greater safety risk when they are declawed, says Dr. Machell. Without their claws, they are unable to protect themselves from possible predators and abusers. 

4. Clawing is a social part of their lives.
Our feline friends obtain real satisfaction from scratching. They have scent glands in the soles of their paws and “when they begin to scratch on a specific area, they’re not only exercising their muscles, nails and tendons, they’re also marking their territory,” says Dr. Machell.

5. They are more likely to go outside of their litter box.
Because declawed cats no longer have the ability to leave their scent by scratching, they may begin to do their business in areas around the house as an attempt to mark their territory.

There are humane and practical ways to deal with your cat’s nails. Here’s how.

1. Set up multiple scratching posts around your home.
You should have at least two sturdy scratching posts for your cat to fulfill her clawing needs. Dr. Machell recommends purchasing or building multi-leveled posts that double as scratching areas and resting nooks.

2. Trim your cat’s nails regularly.
We all know cats can be extremely fussy when it comes to their paws, but trimming blunts the nails, which means they can cause less damage. If trimming at home proves to be too difficult, veterinarians provide the service for a small fee.

3. Use Feliway or catnip to teach your cat where to scratch.
Sprinkle catnip on the scratching posts at least once a week to encourage your cat(s) to use it. Dr. Machell also recommends using Feliway, a non-drug solution that mimics the natural facial pheromones that happy cats use to mark their territory as safe and secure.

4. Give your cat a Soft Paws “manicure.”
Soft Paws is a humane, safe and non-toxic adhesive solution that is placed on each individual nail to make it less destructive. It is available for both cats and dogs.

While declawing has been banned in some countries in Europe, Britain and in some U.S. cities, it remains legal in Canada, but there are pet clinics and hospitals that have banned the procedure from their practice. For a list of Canadian veterinarians in your area who do not perform declawing, visit declaw.com.

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5 reasons you shouldn't declaw your cat

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