Thinking of Declawing Your New Kitten or Cat?

To anyone who thinks a cat should be declawed, please consider this: Why are only cats declawed and not dogs? Dogs can do damage with their nails. They dig up yards and gardens. They dig holes in carpets and ruin hard wood floors. They can scratch people both by accident and on purpose. Their nails are able to rip or puncture furniture and clothing at times. And yet no one ever takes their DOG to the vet to have their claws removed. WHY? It is because you can SEE a dogs entire foot. If you removed the entire first digit on a dog’s paw, you would actually have to LOOK AT a deformed foot. Every day you would be reminded that you removed a vital part of their anatomy.

A cat’s first digit retracts up into the paw. This means to the naked eye you would not actually SEE any deformity. But it IS just that. It is an amputation of an entire digit, bone and all, not just removal of a nail. But because after a declaw surgery the paw still LOOKS normal, most people do not realize how unnatural this procedure is. Some facts about declawing that you might not know.

Declawing is not a routine procedure, like teeth cleaning, it is a major surgery and it has a name: AMPUTATION. And not only once, but 10 times! This surgery, like all others, comes with the possibility of complications. Ask yourself if anything on this list is an acceptable risk:

PHYSICAL COMPLICATIONS:
Excruciating pain, damage to the radial nerve, hemorrhage, bone chips that prevent healing, painful regrowth of deformed claw inside of the paw, chronic back and joint pain because shoulder, leg and back muscles weaken, postoperative hemorrhage (either immediate or following bandage removal), paw ischemia, lameness (due to wound infection or footpad laceration), exposure necrosis of the second phalanx, abscess associated with retention of portions of the third phalanx, abscess due to regrowth (which must be treated by surgical removal of the remnant of the third phalanx and wound debridement). During amputation a bone may shatter which serves as a focus for infection, causing continuous drainage from the toe. Abnormal growth of severed nerve ends can also occur, causing long-term, painful sensations in the toes. Infection will occasionally occur even when all precautions have been taken.

BEHAVIORAL COMPLICATIONS:
Cats who were once lively and friendly have become withdrawn and introverted after being declawed. Others, deprived of their primary means of defense, become nervous, fearful, and/or aggressive, often resorting to their only remaining means of defense, their teeth.

In some cases, when declawed cats use the litter box after surgery, their feet are so tender they associate their new pain with the box...permanently, resulting in a life-long aversion to using the litter box. Other declawed cats that can no longer mark with their claws, will mark with urine instead resulting in inappropriate elimination problems, which in many cases, results in relinquishment of the cats to shelters and ultimately euthanasia.

70 % of cats surrendered to shelters because of behavioral problems, are declawed and developed these problems after the cats were declawed. Many declawed cats become so traumatized by this painful procedure that they end up spending their lives perched on top of doors and refrigerators, out of reach of real and imaginary predators against whom they no longer have any adequate defense.

Since a cat relies on its claws as its primary means of defense, removing the claws may make a cat feel defenseless causing a constant state of stress. This may make some declawed cats more prone to disease. Stress can lead to a myriad of physical and psychological disorders including (among others) suppression of the immune system, cystitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Other facts: Did you know cats use their claws for balance, to jump, and to climb? That cats walk on their toes, not the pads of their feet, and declawing forces them to walk in an unnatural way? That the claws play an important role in grooming, and that grooming is the way a cat helps to control its body temperature, its scent signals and more?

Did you know all these countries have banned declawing or at least labeled it inhumane : England, Scotland, Wales, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Portugal, Belgium, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Yugoslavia and Japan?

A 1994 study by the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences found that of 163 cats who were declawed, 50 percent had one or more complications immediately after surgery, such as pain, hemorrhage, lameness, swelling, and non-weight bearing. Of the 121 cats whose progress was followed after surgery, 20 percent had continued complications, such as infection, regrowth, bone protrusion into the pad of the paw and prolonged intermittent lameness and palma grade stance (abnormal standing posture).

Are you willing to take the chance?

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