What It Declawing
Declawing is the surgical removal of a cats nails by amputating the last knuckle joint in their paw. This would be the same as removing the last knuckle joint on your hand or foot. This surgery is actually considered cruel and is illegal in many countries. North America is one of the few places where declawing cats is still common. The technical term is Onychectomy.
What always amazes people is that their veterinarian will do something, such as a declaw, and not tell the owner of potential side effects. But you as an owner, need to be aware that since you are PAYING a vet to do this surgery, there is no reason for him, or her, to try to talk you out of it. Unless you ask about the risks and potential problems, they probably will not tell you.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/zenera/3758731321/ Cats who are happen often extend their nails.
How Declawing Might Affect Your Cat
Heightened flight or fight response
A declawed cat KNOWS that it is defenseless. It will react stronger to trivial situations. In nature, weak animals are easier targets and they know it, so they either must flee, or make an appearance that they are healthy and strong. This is why declawed cats often become nervous biters, or are easily frightened and react in a way that may seem too extreme for the situation.
This combines with the above statement, as declawed cats often try to assert their dominance so they do not get challenged by other animals, including their owner. A declawed cat may become a bully to your other pets.
Refusal to use the litter box
Because of the pain in their paws a declawed cat may refuse to use its litter, either permanently, temporarily, or it may develop as an issue later in life.
Chronic back pain
Because they are now unable to walk naturally on their toes they must walk on the heel of their paw. This is unnatural, and as a cat gets older it may result in chronic back pain.
Complications from surgery
Sometimes the surgery does not go correctly, bone chips remain, tendon damage occurs, or regrowth occurs. All of these may result in a cat that requires further surgeries or euthanasia.
The declaw itself won’t kill your cat, but if it gets out it could be easily killed by a dog or other animals. Remember these cats do not act like you might think. Knowing that they have no defense sometimes makes them more aggressive as they do not want to appear weak.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Declawedcat.jpg A declawed cat.
You can buy claw covers that you glue onto your kitties nails. These often come in packages of 40, but since cats rarely use their hind claws, you can save money by using them only on the front nails.
Your sofa is still useful for sitting on, even if it has some scratches on it.
Provide cat furniture
If your cat is allowed its own scratching place it will be happier. You need to indicate to the cat that it is allowed to scratch certain things. You can do this by rubbing catnip on it. Also you can renew use by moving cat furniture around or laying it on its side.
There are several spray products that cats do not like the smell of, you can use these on your furniture to prevent the cat from scratching there. Even a quick squirt with water will tell a cat not to scratch a certain area. Do not go crazy and spray a cat once it has stopped scratching or it will not understand the punishment.
Slip covers on your furniture
Adopt a kitty that is already declawed
Rather than buying a kitten and putting it through the risky procedure and pain, try finding a cat who has already had the surgery done.
Wait for it to outgrow the behavior
Kittens are typically claw aggressive, this diminishes by the time the cat is about 1 year old.
Select a breed not known for being claw aggressive
Himalayans and Persians are not known for being as claw aggressive as other breeds.
Trim your cat’s nails
It is very simple to do or can be done by a groomer or veterinarian.
Above is Henry, he had been adopted after being declawed.
If you do declaw your cat, you must make sure he or she does not go outside ever. They are an easy target for a dog or other cat, and they will not always run. Remember what I said earlier – they may want to appear tough so will stay and fight.
Declawing is a permanent procedure, once done it cannot be undone.
Never declaw a kitten. If clawing is an issue a person should not even consider getting a kitten, rather they should select an older cat (one past the clawing stage) or a cat that was already declawed.
Scratching is completely natural to a cat. There is no point in getting a pet and depriving of the things that are natural to it. If clawing is something you cannot tolerate, then perhaps a cat is not the right pet for you.
Further Reading on the Removal of a Cat’s Claws
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