The Wisdom of Declawing Cats
Declawing is a surgical procedure that permanently removes your cat’s claws. The operation is legal in the United States, but a growing number of veterinarians are urging cat owners to consider other options.
Cat clawingWhy Cats Claw
Cats indulge in clawing for a number of reasons. Sharpening and maintenance of the claws is the obvious function.
When clawing, cats also deposit chemical markers, or pheromones, from their pads in order to communicate their territorial ownership. Most declawed cats continue to display this scratching behavior.
The Surgical Procedure
The actual procedure of declawing is referred to as “onychectomy.” This surgery is an amputation of the claw at the end of the toe bone joint. The procedure removes the entire nail so that no regrowth occurs. While this operation does stop the damage done by a scratching cat, many feel that it should be done only as a last resort when all other options have failed.
Some considerations regarding declawing:
- Cats exhibit pain immediately after surgery.
- Some cats feel chronic pain after declawing.
- Bleeding and infections may occur.
- Cats lose an important defense mechanism.
- Most cats can be trained to stop scratching.
The declawing of all four feet is seldom justified. Discuss options with your veterinarian.
If your cat has outside access, declawing is not a good option to consider. Not only does your cat lose his ability to defend himself, but his ability to climb trees and escape from dogs and other predators is also affected.
Other Options to Declawing
Declawing is not the only option available to cat owners who wish to preserve their furniture. One of the following should also work:
Train your cat to use a scratching post. Some cats will even use a simple wooden board.
Ask your veterinarian about removable nail coverings for your cat.
Apply 2-sided tape to the areas where the cat scratches.
Regularly trim your cat’s nails.
Our veterinarian’s advice is to avoid surgery if at all possible. With a little training, most cats learn to respect your furnishings and restrict their clawing to proper locations, like a scratching post.