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A Thorny Issue: The Facts About Declawing Cats

Declawing cats is an incredibly controversial topic. There are people who adamantly refuse to have the procedure performed on their cats, and there are even veterinarians who won’t perform the procedure in their offices. If can be hard to differentiate between the facts about declawing cats and the misconceptions.

There are medical reasons for cats to be declawed, such as tumors that have damaged the claw, or owners who have medical problems and cannot be exposed to the bacteria found on cat claws. However, typically most cats are declawed because of issues within the home. Cat owners become frustrated when their cats are scratching up their furniture or being destructive in other parts of the house.

When a cat is declawed, the procedure removes the claw and a small part of bone where the claw grows from. If this part of the bone is not removed, the claw will grow back. If it’s not removed correctly, the claw can grow back disfigured. The typical procedure is equivalent to cutting off the tip of your finger at the third knuckle. It’s incredibly painful for a cat because it cuts into the pad on the bottom of their paw.

There is another type of surgery, a cosmetic declawing procedure, which involves much less invasion of the cats paw. With this procedure the cat will heal much faster, but it is more difficult to perform, so not many veterinarians offer this as a solution.

The Facts About Declawing Cats

As with any surgery, cats will feel pain. Depending on how the surgery is performed will determine how much pain the cat feels. With the cosmetic declawing, a cat can be back to normal within a week. However, with the typical method, it can be three to four weeks or even longer before a cat is able to walk normally again.

Infection is possible after the surgery, but it poses no more severe risk than any other surgery. While healing, care should be given to cats so nothing gets stuck in their paws. Cats will be at a greater risk if the bone is not completely removed. The nail will most likely grow back disfigured and cause more problems in the cat’s paw.

Declawed cats should not be allowed outside because they will be no longer able to defend themselves if they run into danger. Owners should be prepared to keep their cats indoors for the rest of their lives if they’re considering going through with the procedure.

Are There Alternatives to Declawing?

Learning more facts about declawing cats also provides the knowledge of several easier alternatives. Owners can work to modify a cat’s behavior so the cat will learn to understand not to scratch furniture or other home furnishings. This solution is typically only successful with kittens. Placing a scratching post near furniture or other places the cat loves to scratch will give a the cat a better place to scratch. Just make sure the post is tall enough so that the cat can still be on the post when fully stretched.

A veterinarian developed Soft Paws, vinyl nail caps that are superglued on to a cat’s claws and cause virtually no damage when the cat goes to scratch. The cat will forget that the caps are on her claws and can continue scratching without a problem. The caps should be replaced every six to eight weeks.

Trimming a cat’s nails can be helpful, but only if the problem with cat scratching is because they’re scratching people. Trimmed nails won’t make a difference in scratching your furniture. Owners should try to trim their cat’s nails about once a week.

The facts about declawing cats are clear, but it’s up to the owner to decide what is best for their family. If the issue is stemming from scratching furniture or people, consider an alternative before seeking out a veterinarian to perform declawing surgery. Read more about the declawing procedure here.