When it comes to cats, there are two topics about which there is a great deal of discussion and, in some cases, dispute. The first hot button topic is the indoor vs. outdoor cat debate, which has been argued feverishly for years, with neither side giving an inch. The second hotly debated topic is about declawing, a debate that raises the temperatures of believers on both sides of the debate. Below is some information which should assist you in deciding where you fall on the topic.
For a cat, scratching is normal behavior, and is generally not meant to be destructive. A cat scratches to remove dead husks from their claws, to mark territory and stretch their muscles.
Declawing is the amputation of the last joint of your cat’s toe and the standard method of declawing is amputation, with a scalpel or guillotine clipper. Another popular method for declawing is laser surgery, in which an intense beam of light cuts through the tissue by heating and vaporizing it. There is one more option, called a tendonectomy, in which the tendon that controls the claw in each toe is severed. The cat keeps his claws, but can’t control or extend them. Declawing is considered by most veterinarians to be an unnecessary surgery which provides no medical benefit to the cat, and can lead to infection, pain, tissue necrosis (tissue death), nerve damage and bone spurs.
In England declawing is termed “unnecessary mutilation”, and, along with France, Italy, Australia, Japan and the Netherlands, among others, England has banned the practice. The American Veterinary Medical Association states that “Declawing of domestic cats should be considered only after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively or when its clawing presents an above normal health risk for its owner(s).” The ASPCA, Humane Society of the United States and PETA, along with most (if not all) other animal welfare organizations, also oppose declawing (except for the rare cases when it is necessary for medical purposes).
Many cat owners believe that declawing and tendonectomies are surgeries that should be reserved for those rare cases in which a cat has a medical problem that would warrant such surgery, such as removing a cancerous nail bed tumor to ease the cats’ suffering.
When a cat is declawed, it is deprived it of its primary means of defense, leaving it prey to predators. Declawed cats often become biters after the surgery, because they no longer have their claws to use for defense. Ironically, most declawed cats typically cause more damage with their back claws after the surgery, than they ever did with their front claws, when they still had them.
If you do decide to declaw you cat, remember that when a newly declawed cat recuperates from the surgery, she still has to use her feet to walk, jump, and scratch in her litter box. Take steps to ease the recuperation process and remember that your cat is now missing half of its toes on its two front paws. For several days after surgery, shredded newspaper is commonly used in the litter box to prevent litter from irritating the newly declawed paws and you will need to carefully monitor your cat’s paws for signs of infection.
Anyone contemplating declawing their cat might first want to consider Soft Paws as an alternative. These are lightweight vinyl nail caps that you glue on your cat’s front claws. They are easily applied and last for about 6 weeks. Note that the caps should only be used on indoor cats as outdoor cats should NEVER be declawed or be deprived in any way of the full use of their paws.
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