Declawing a cat is an unnecessary, quite brutal thing to do. The only reason cat owners do it is to protect their furniture from a natural instinct cats have: clawing objects. Cats claw objects for exercise, to stretch, and to maintain the health of their nails. They also claw to mark their territory and because it's just plain fun. It is a natural activity that satisfies physical and psychological needs of the cat. In the wild, cats could claw trees, but domesticated cats, often restricted to indoor activities, if left to their own devices, may claw the side of the couch or a beloved easy chair. But if cat owners provide a minimal amount of training, regular nail trimmings and an appropriate outlet for scratching such as a scratching post, these problematic behaviors can be avoided.
What does it mean to declaw a cat?
Declawing a cat is a serious surgery. General anesthesia must be used, and contrary to popular belief, not only the nail is removed, but the last joint of each toe–all ten of them–is amputated along with the surrounding cartilage. If that's not enough reason to avoid declawing at all costs, here are ten other reasons:
1. Surgical complications. Including complications and reactions to general anensthesia, nerve damage, and hemorrhaging.
2. Regrowth. After surgery, the nails may grow back under the skin causing pain to the cat that will not be apparent to the pet parent.
3. Impaired mobility. After surgery, cats must re-learn to walk since part of their toes have been removed. They may suffer from lifelong balance and mobility issues.
4. Progressive joint problems. Due to the modified walk of declawed cats, their joints often become strained and arthritic, causing additional mobility issues and pain.
5. Weak, painful shoulders. The shoulders of declawed cats often become weak and painful due to their modified gait and inability to exercise properly.
6. Litter box pain. When a declawed cat comes home from the procedure, her paws are painful and tender. She will likely experience pain when walking on litter and digging in the litter box, and may begin to associate the litter box with pain. She'll then choose another (inappropriate) place to do her "business."
7. Marking. Since the cat's preferred means of marking his territory is gone, he may decide to urinate and defecate around the house, outside the litter box, in an attempt to mark.
8. Biting. Cats who are declawed have no front line of defense and often feel insecure. They are more likely to bite, especially children. Bites can be much more damaging than small scratches.
9. General aggressiveness. The best defense is a good offense. Because declawed cats feel insecure and unable to defend themselves, they often become aggressive, going on the attack at the slightest provocation.
10. Outdoor vulnerability. Even if the cat is an indoor cat, there is a chance she may find herself outdoors if she escapes, in which case she will have no defense and no means to climb to safety away from predators.
Because so many declawed cats have behavior and medical problems, they are more likely to be surrendered to shelters. A procedure is meant to curb behavior problems often is, ironically, often the root cause of more severe issues. Bottom line, if you can't tolerate the natural scratching behavior of a cat and can't provide a feline with an appropriate outlet for it, it's best to think about adopting a different kind of pet.
Cat image source: graitsphotography.com