Many people don’t realize that the declawing of cats is much more than removing their claws. It is the amputation of the last joints of the cat’s toes. The claws are firmly embedded into bone and that bone contains claw cells, if the bone is not removed, the claws grow back painfully and crookedly.

Pain Medication

The strength of pain medication required to dull the pain of the amputations is the same strength doctors give to people terminally ill with cancer. Cats are kept overnight with pressure bandages on their paws to stop the bleeding.

Some cats throw themselves around the recovery cage with the pain and shock and some more stoic hunch in the corner.

Cats hide their pain if they can because to a cat, showing pain is a sign of weakness; many cats suffer in silence from problems from the declawing which can occur days, months, even years after the operation. Claw regrowth can be well advanced before anyone notices the cat is in pain.

Complications

A complication which can happen at any time is a sliver of bone left behind can move and cause pain and infection. In both those cases it means another operation for the cat. Sadly some cats have lost their paws this way.

The most common immediate problems from declawing are litter box avoidance, because digging hurts the cats wounded paws – some use soft furnishings instead. The second most common is biting; this is because the cat’s first defenses, the claws, have been taken from him.

Other complications are change of personality, depression, and stress illnesses (such as cystitis and eczema) and almost always, painful arthritis which develops because the cat cannot walk as cats should, they are digitigrades and walk on their toes. Also they cannot exercise as cats need to by digging in their claws to stretch their leg, shoulder, stomach and back muscles. Scratching is not bad behavior, it is necessary behavior.

Excuses

Sadly Veterinarians who declaw cats don’t explain all this to their clients  and this supposed to be  according to the AVMA, last resort procedure for serious scratching problems is advertised in neuter/declaw packages or discounts on declawing, by many Veterinarians.

Their excuse is that more cats would be abandoned if declawing was not available. This is wrong! Many declawed cats are abandoned when problems start, many are relinquished to Rescue Shelters but not all of them make the adoption lists.

At kill Shelters, the unadoptable declawed cats are killed on admission. At no kill Shelters they are caged for life. Some Veterinarians are pushing laser declawing as more humane.

The only difference in this method is less bleeding and quicker healing, but the outcome is exactly the same as declawing by guillotine, the last toe joints are amputated and the cat is disabled for life.

Other excuses for declawing a cat are a baby in the home, a dog, an immune-compromised person, but most of all people have their cats declawed because of their furniture!

It is very wrong to be able to arrange to have a kitten declawed before even giving him the chance to show he will not scratch where he shouldn’t.

Alternatives

In countries where declawing is banned we manage with our cats with claws by watching over babies and vulnerable people and by providing a scratching post for our cats.  Cats claws can also be easily trimmed if necessary, just like we do our own, our children’s and our dog’s claws.

A cat needs a tall strong scratching post which will not topple over. It is very easy to teach him to use it.  Just like a child, a cat is best taught by kindness, patience and distraction. Show him how to use the scratching post by dragging your own nails down while he watches. Then gently lift up his front legs until he digs his claws in and praise him when he scratches.

After that, if he goes to scratch where he shouldn’t, simply gently lift him to his post and praise him when he uses it. You should never punish a cat, they don’t understand punishment, it doesn’t solve any problems and the cat becomes nervous of you.

Cats are very intelligent and soon learn. Some cats prefer flat scratching pads, there is lots of   ’cat furniture’ to choose from until you find the one which suits your cat best.

Cats come with claws because they need claws and hopefully soon declawing will be banned worldwide before many more cats suffer from this cruel and unnecessary operation.

You can find plenty of cheap, high-quality cat scratching posts at Amazon.

provided by Ruth

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