Let's talk about Onychectomy, or "declawing" and all of the reasons why you should never declaw your cat. Never. "Is it really that bad?" you ask, yes it IS, and here's why.
Before we really begin, it's important to know that declawing your cat is never a quick fix for the shredding of your couch, there is a lot more behind the act of declawing and it is something that will affect your cat's life forever, and that's far more important than any piece of furniture.
The act of declawing a cat is where a vet will remove the claws from the front two feet, and sometimes the back feet, though this is less common. It is also known by the term Onychectomy, however, neither of these terms are completely true as they imply just the removal of the claw, which is not how declawing a cat works.
A better term for the procedure would be phalangectomy, the excision of the toe bone. The claws grow from germinal tissue within that third phalanx, so the entire third bone needs to be removed to prevent regrowth of the claw.
If it were a human having the surgery it's the equivalent of having our fingers amputated at the last knuckle, essentially just for fun.
Yes, the act of declawing a cat is actually a surgery where the last bone in the toe is removed usually using either a scalpel, a guillotine clipper or a laser.
This means anaesthesia and a real operation for your cat to endure, and all cat owners should know that any procedure your cat has to undergo can be risky or stressful for their pet, and considering the fact that declawing has zero benefits for your cat, it's really not worth putting them through it.
On top of that this surgery means awkward recovery time and the possibility of infection, meaning that your cat could be off their feet for days or weeks while they recover, and no one really wants to see their pet in any sort of prolonged pain.
Another option for removing cats claws is a procedure called a Tendonectomy where the tendon cats use to extend their claws is cut, so they do not amputate the toe at all but the cat can no longer extend its claws.
This may seem like the better option but it has a high likeliness of causing complications such as thicker claw growth which means difficult claw trimmings at a more often rate to stop them snagging on the carpet, furniture, or growing into the cat's pads.
A lot of cats who have a Tendonectomy done often need to be declawed at a later date anyway, so it's a lose-lose situation for your pet.
As mentioned above the declawing of cats generally has zero benefits for them but it can cause many negative effects that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Declawed cats can suffer from a multitude of different health conditions such as pain in the paws, infection, tissue death, nerve damage, lacerations on the pads, incomplete healing, lameness and back pain.
Removing a cats claws (and toes) changes the way they walk and the way their feet touch the ground and can cause pain and discomfort that would be similar to wearing the wrong sized shoe for humans, all day, every day.
There are also reports of cats suffering from regrowth of improperly removed claws, so in these cases not only was the surgery a failure but the cat has to put up with the pain of recovering from surgery, and the pain of poorly regrowing claws. Ouch!
For several days after declawing, a cats paws will be far too sensitive to dig in a litter box, so shredded newspaper is typically used as a softer substitute in that time.
However, this is an unfamiliar substitute for them and that sudden change paired with the pain of recovery can lead cats to stop using the litter box for good, as they will mentally attach the use of litter to painful experiences.
Also, cats without claws are known to develop behavioural problems far worse than the scratching of furniture that owners worried about beforehand. Because the felines no longer have claws they have no way to defend themselves, so a lot of clawless cats are known to take up biting or other forms of aggression in order to feel protected.
They also need to mark their territory and how do they do that? The ever-present problem, scratching furniture. But which would you prefer, a bit of scratching or your cat peeing on your couch for the rest of time? Yes, the only way left for them to mark their space would be spraying, or urinating on different parts of your home.
Unfortunately, this is something you'll have to put up with because once declawed it is highly recommended you keep your cat indoors for the rest of its life because remember they'll have no way to hunt for food or protect themselves if you let them outside.
And if you think all of that is bad enough you also need to know that this procedure can change cats not just physically, but psychologically as well.
Just like with humans who lose a limb, cats who are declawed will need to adjust to having such a vital body part suddenly go missing, and this can mess with anyone, animal or human, psychologically.
Cats that were social and playful may pull a full 180 and become withdrawn or introverted, and others who are already skittish may become nervous, easily scared, and aggressive, but can you blame them?
And unfortunately for the felines who have been subjected to Onychectomy and exude those behavioural issues they are likely to be dumped or passed on to a shelter.
So let's recap, our feline friends, that we are supposed to love and protect, are subjected to a painful and unnecessary amputation of their toes only to possibly develop health and behavioural issues, to then be abandoned to an unfamiliar place or worse, dumped into the wild where they will not have the ability to look after themselves.
We love our kitties so that's why it is so important that you never declaw your cat, and always talk to others about the dangers of declawing so that they too know that it should never, ever happen.
Our cats are born with claws for a reason and they are very important to how they live and look after themselves, and if you're having problems with your cat scratching things try getting them more toys to distract them, cat trees to climb, and poles for them to scratch where they won't get themselves into trouble.
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