Any cat owner who has experienced the joys of cat ownership knows the struggle of dealing with a cat's tendency toward clawing the furniture, the carpet, or even its owner. While a cat's destructive tendencies might annoy you, it's all part of the package. Claws are a cat's best natural defense, and though you might not like it when they use them in ways you don't anticipate, it's important to know why declawing your cat is bad.
People do a lot of things to their pets to make them easier to live with, like training them to use the litter box and reinforcing the need to stay indoors. People spay and neuter them, an admittedly invasive surgery. However, there is an active campaign that declares, "Don't declaw your cat!" More and more, people are realizing that declawing your cat is not something to be done lightly. It might seem unreasonable, but there are many good reasons for why you should not to declaw your cat. Read on below to learn more about what declawing is, why it is done, and alternatives to the painful procedure.
Referred to as onychectomy in the scientific world, declawing is the procedure of removing the whole first joint in each digit of the paw of a cat. Techniques for the surgery range from using a scalpel to shears to lasers. It is usually performed when the cat is still young and healthy.
Some veterinarians consider the procedure to be "aggressive," as it is considered an amputation where you are removing what is essentially the tips of a cat's fingers. On a human hand, this is the equivalent of removing the first bone of the finger at the knuckle, well below the nail. The surgery has a 50% rate of "postoperative complications," such as "pain, hemorrhage, laceration of the digital pad, swelling, reluctance to bear weight on the affected limbs, neuropraxia from improper tourniquet use, and lameness."
There are a whole host of reasons for why you might want to declaw your cat. Maybe your furry friend has a tendency to scratch at your favorite furniture, or maybe they get a bit too free with their claws when they have a little catnip. However, these are very selfish reasons and unncessary reasons to declaw your cat. There are many health benefits for cats in keeping their claws.
This is not to say that it is always wrong to declaw your cat. There are some scenarios where such a surgical procedure is the right decision. Some people with compromised immune systems or bleeding disorders may believe that declawing their pet is the only way to stay safe, or feline health concerns may necessitate claw removal. Whatever the reason, declawing your cat should be a decision based on health and safety concerns, made with the help of a veterinarian.
Declawing is an easy solution for what's perceived as a behavioral problem in cats. However, cats clawing at things is actually a biological necessity. To combat unnecessary declawing in the interest of the felines, many states and countries have made the procedure illegal, forcing owners to find more humane solutions to the perceived "behavioral" problems.
England, Scotland, and Brazil are just three of the countries where the practice is banned, while West Hollywood is the only city that currently outlaws declawing entirely in the US. However, California and Rhode Island both have laws that prevent landlords from requiring a declawing surgery as part of a pet policy.
What humans read as bad behavior actually serves a purpose for cats. When a cat digs its claws into an object and stretches, it's stretching and exercising its back and shoulder muscles by using its claws as resistance. Cats have no thumbs or other gripping mechanisms to otherwise stretch these muscles, so declawing them robs them of the ability to stretch properly. Without the capacity to flex and stretch, cats can suffer from muscle pain.