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Guest Post: The Truth About Declawing and Why This is no Longer Common Practice

Written by Nicole McCray

Cats make wonderful companions and pets, but there can be some surprising actions that come from your new furry feline. For example, you may find that your couch, other pieces of furniture, or even your skin gets scratched by their tiny, sharp claws.

Many cat owners in the past would have their pets declawed, a practice that involves cutting off an area of the bones under anesthesia. The surgical procedure ensures that the claws don’t grow back, making it a permanent fix to the scratching problem.

However, declawing is not a humane procedure and can result in more significant complications for cats that are both behavioral and medical. Those who have discovered the inhumane circumstances surrounding a declawing procedure do not consider it. Therefore, all responsible cat owners should understand the more substantial consequences of declawing and how you can work with your cat scratching without putting your cat through such a procedure.

Cats Claws and Scratching

First, cat owners need to know the reason for cat claws. Cats' paws provide the framework for the anatomy of your cat’s legs and support muscles and tendons that aid in balance. In addition, footpads on the feet have scent glands, so cats use them to explore new and unfamiliar objects or foods.

A cat’s claws are used for scratching, a natural instinct and tendency. There are multiple reasons that cats will scratch, including:

  • Kneading - cats move their claws on posts, furniture, and sometimes people, and it is a reenactment of the times a kitten nursed its mom. It signifies contentment with your cat, and their claws will come out, but it is only to help calm, as a therapeutic behavior to provide stress relief.

  • Grooming - cats need their claws to itch; it’s as simple as that.

  • Playtime - cats use their claws to hook onto toys or catch things.

  • Climbing or hunting - cats express their predatory nature by chasing and clawing and perching in high places, so they use their claws to climb up things.

  • Marking territory - cats leave scratches as a visual to other felines that a location has been claimed, and their footpads also leave a scent.

  • Communicating - cats will display their claws to warn people, which is more likely when they are being held and want to get down.

  • Protection - cats will defend themselves with their claws and show them as a sign to let you know they are feeling scared or upset.

  • Shedding - claws have lawyers, so the outer layer will sometimes need to fall off, and cats will dig and scratch to get that external lawyer of tissues removed for new claw growth, much like a human’s skin.

Declawing and its Consequences

Many cat owners are unaware of the circumstances surrounding declawing. You may believe it is more similar to nail trimming or to remove the claw at the base. The process involves eliminating joints within your cat’s paws. It is defined as a severe surgical procedure where the last bones in each toe are amputated.

It is a complex procedure since claws retract, and it essentially destroys the integrity of your cat’s paw. In addition, general anesthesia will carry risks for your pet, and after a declawing surgery, the vet will have your cat’s feet bandaged. Many times cats have to stay at your vet’s office for a few days due to the pain and discomfort that follows the procedure.

According to vet technicians and experts at Bond Vet Astoria, cats must be restricted entirely from jumping or moving their paws during their recovery since there may be issues with bleeding or infection. In addition, declawing can sometimes be done poorly, resulting in partial regrowth of the claws, resulting in causing your cat more pain, and more surgery will be necessary.

Even after healing, cats can still experience complications from the procedure, such as balance issues or muscle weakness in their legs. Cats can also become more defensive and bite due to their understanding of being weakened.

Litter box issues tend to arise after declawing and circle back to the cat feeling insecure about its ability to defend itself properly. In addition, cats become less adaptable to changes that occur and may avoid the litter box due to pain in the paws that becomes more intense when in the litter box because the litter is too rough for the cat’s paws without its claws.

The most noticeable behavioral effect that declawing has on cats is their increased feelings of fear and anxiety. Unfortunately, animal shelters often become home to many declawed cats because of behavior problems after surgery. Consider fostering a cat in need to help provide a safe place for these unwanted cats until they are matched with their permanent loving homes.

Better Options For Your Feline

There are many reasons not to declaw your cat that far outweigh the reasons to do it. However, you can find alternatives to a declawing procedure. Some of those alternatives can include:

  • Training your cat to use a scratching post - if you can invest in a scratching post or tower where your cat can scratch to its heart's content, do it! So they can keep their nails in good condition, help calm themselves and not harm any furniture in your home.

  • Toys for scratching - there are many toys you can purchase for your cat to help it relieve its need to claw and scratch. Kitty condos are popular for your cat to climb, play, and dig their claws in.

  • Trim its nails - when you trim your cat’s nails regularly, you will prevent it from scratching off the outer layers frequently. Ask your veterinarian to show you the proper way to cut your cat’s nails so that you can do it at home.

Keep Your Cat Safe and Happy

Hopefully, your eyes have been opened to the dangers of declawing and why it is not a favored procedure for your pet. It is no longer common to declaw cats due to numerous health and behavioral issues, the most significant being the pain that comes with the surgery.

Many veterinarians, technicians, and animal hospitals today refuse to perform declawing procedures since they have been discovered to be inhumane. Cats need to keep their claws to help them stay calm, relieve stress, and feel at ease.

Take time to train your cat to scratch in approved areas that you allow in the home, and trim its nails regularly to ensure that you keep your cat from clawing and scratching objects or other people. Cats need to scratch for multiple reasons, but primarily to feel secure - so don’t take away their instinct so that you can live healthy and happy together.

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