Declawing: Unnatural for your kitty
Declawing serves one purpose and one purpose only – it makes it convenient for someone who doesn’t understand cat behaviour or who doesn’t wish to learn how to live with a cat, to have a cat in their life.
Why are claws important?
Cats’ claws are important, as they are needed to help the kitty maintain his balance, mark his territory and defend himself. Yes, Kitty uses his claws to ‘scratch’ (sometimes this means your furniture). You may ask yourself, “Why does he use the furniture or the floor when a good scratching post is sitting unused in the corner?” There are several reasons:
- Your scent is on the furniture. Kitty is placing his scent over yours. He is claiming you as his property, his territory. After all, it is your lap waiting for him at night, and your hand that feeds him. This scratching is actually honouring you. Kitty cannot understand why you are so upset with him. After all, every time he head-bumps you, he is also placing his scent on you. And you don’t get upset about that…do you?
- Furniture is stable. It doesn’t wobble. Go over to the cat scratcher and knock it with your hand lightly. See it wobble? Stabilize it and the cat will use it.
- Cats scratch also to stretch their backs, if the objects can’t handle their weight, they will find something that does.
What is declawing?
Declawing is the process when the vet surgically removes the toenail of the cat along with the last joint where the claw would grow. The removal can be done by a scalpel, or by a laser. It is major surgery and a painful procedure for the cat.
There is a newer procedure being used called a flexor tendonectomy. This surgery leaves the claws intact but cuts off the tendon that allows the cat to sheathe and unsheathe his claws. But again, this is still a painful procedure and should only be performed in the most extreme of circumstances. After this procedure, your cat’s claws will need to be routinely trimmed.
Why not to go for declawing?
Declawing should never be something done to save a stick of furniture, or to stop the shredding of drapes. Declawing a cat is unnatural for the cat and not without risks (that don’t often show up right away). There is nothing routine about the surgery, which is why following the surgery; most vets will not release the cat back to the worried owner for 24-48 hours. This is to spare the cat owner the agony of watching their cat bang his head against the cage in pain and confusion that follows the surgery.
In rare instances, declawing may need to be performed such as when the cat belongs to an elderly person with a bleeding disorder or paper-thin skin.
What problems can occur by declawing?
- Infection can set in if the incision isn’t properly sealed.
- The cat can turn aggressive if the right pain control measures weren’t used during and after surgery.
- In some cases, the claws can grow back or the paws become infected.
- After a declaw is performed, the paws will stay tender for about a week or two.
- Litter box filler should be soft, shredded paper, rabbit food (rabbit pellets). Litter box accidents and using the floor or peeing on soft objects (like beds or clean clothes) often occur once a cat has been declawed.
- Cats need their claws to defend themselves. Take this weapon away from them, and they will resort to biting.
What are the options to declawing?
- There are vinyl nail covers for a cat’s claws. The casings fit over the nail then are sealed in place. The cat can scratch and leave no marks.
- Use multiple scratching posts.
- Use clicker training to train your cat to scratch in the right places.
- Use cat condos.
- Clip the nails yourself.
- Use clear sheets of acrylic on the corners of our couches. These corners are covered with the extra fabric that comes with any sofa and are virtually unnoticeable. They work great to stop the cats from clawing.
How to take care of your declawed cat?
If you have your cat declawed, your cat should never be let outside, or dumped off in a shelter because of behaviour problems. If your cat does develop behaviour problems due to declawing, take responsibility for your actions and get him to a vet immediately.