The Truth About Declawing

-Image from The Paw Project, which has a wealth of information about the issue.

Declawing is not a difference of opinion. It's simply wrong.

This is the usual way it goes. The vet suggests declawing during the spaying or neutering, claiming the cat doesn't mind. Or the cat claws furniture and the person doesn't know how, or can't be bothered, to train the cat. The claws are a potential problem, so we eliminate the claws.

The problems are just beginning.

This isn't just removing the claws. This is removing the first joint of the toes. Which happens to be what the cat walks on.

This is how cats can move so quickly and silently. Their mode of walking is known as digitigrade; walking on their digits. Walking on what is partially removed from the operation. It's difficult enough if all goes well. Nature has of way of trying to repair what has been damaged, since it is so important to the cat's survival. There's a one in three chance the cat will require further operations because of complications and poor healing.

Now the cat cannot walk normally. This throws off their exquisite balance and creates stresses throughout their whole body. This stress gets multiplied by mental stresses. Even if the cat never used their claws defensively, they knew they could. Now they know they cannot. There is a usual reaction to this.

The cat becomes a biter.

Now the person, who was either unprepared or unwilling to simply train the cat in proper scratching behavior, has a cat who doesn't scratch. Instead, they have a cat who bites and is defensive and will show more bad behavior because that is a cat's usual response to stress. People have told me, unaware of the irony of their words, that the cat was fine afterwards... except they needed to get a different litter, because the cat's paws were so sensitive to normal litter they wouldn't use the litter box anymore. That the cat acts the same... except they are more withdrawn, and don't play as much, and don't seem to come around for affection as much. But they tell me the cat didn't mind it.

Until I don't hear much about the cat at all anymore. This is the best case scenario; one in which the cat fades from their notice, a pained little shadow that lurks around the house. The rest of the time, the cat becomes more and more of a problem. If it's lucky, it winds up in the shelter. Often, they are simply dumped, with even less chance than a functioning cat of surviving out there.

Declawed cats are abandoned out of all proportion to their numbers in the population. Their new behavior problems are how they wind up in the shelter or on the street. Have you ever considered how that happens? How a cat, who has been crippled to prevent problems, winds up being such a problem their people don't want them anymore?

Wasn't the declawing operation supposed to prevent that?

Go ahead, check out Petfinder. See the symbol that shows the cat which now needs a home has been declawed? It's a purplish paw. See how often the symbols for No Other Cats, No Children, No Dogs, and other warnings show up with that damning paw symbol? I have.

This is a neurotic, crippled, damaged cat. Which nobody wants.

And somebody paid money to do that on purpose.

It's far better to find alternatives to declawing.

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