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The Painful Truth: 10 Reasons Not to Declaw

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Though it is still common practice in the United States to declaw pet cats, many owners have begun to disapprove of this procedure for valid and important reasons. Before making the decision to declaw, here are just ten (of the many) facts to consider.

1. Declawing is illegal in most countries around the world, especially European nations. Several US cities have also proposed outlawing the procedure.

2. Cat claws are not toenails; they are actually an extension of the toe bone. Removing the claw is the equivalent of amputating a human finger at the first joint.

3. Declawed cats are more likely to bite, as their first method of defense (scratching) is now gone. They are also more likely to be withdrawn or fearful of humans because of their lack of defense.

4. Anectodal evidence states that declawed cats are more prone to litterbox avoidance issues. Since declawing is painful, the cat may associate the pain with the litterbox and therefore avoid it.

5. Cats walk on the tips of their toes. By removing the first joint, the cat's gait is altered. An altered gait can lead to arthritic joints, joint deterioration, balance issues, and even a "sway back."

6. Scratching is a natural behavior for cats. It allows them to stretch, tone their agile bodies, and mark their territory through pheremones located on the paws. With positive reinforcement, cats would much rather scratch a material like sisal rope or cardboard than your favorite loveseat.

7. Even after the amputated toes have healed, many cats continue to experience pain and sensitivity in the paws for the rest of their lives.

8. If accidental cat scratches are a concern, vinyl nail caps are available for purchase. They are easy to apply and the pretty colors make cats look extra fancy.

9. Veterinarians do not alway remove enough of the claw-forming bone during the surgery. This bone can continue to grow, causing a painful, deformed claw (invisible to the naked eye) to re-grow within the cat's foot. The claw will occassionally break through the skin; if not, it will need surgical repair.

10. Declawing is a major medical procedure. As such, there is always the risk of infection, bleeding, swelling and other complications. The surgery does not benefit the cat in any way; therefore, these risks are entirely avoidable by choosing not to declaw.

For more info:
-Photos of the procedure (graphic)
-Article on declawing from Dr. Michael W. Fox,
-Declawing links database
-Technical facts about declawing
-Sophie's Story: Declawing gone wrong

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