If you are considering declawing your cat, please read this.
Cats’ claws are not like our fingernails
People often mistakenly believe that declawing their cats is a harmless "quick fix" for unwanted scratching. Declawing is not like a manicure. It is serious surgery. Our fingernails are attached to the flesh of our fingers, but cats’ claws are actually part of the distal phalanx, the last bone of the toe. In order to remove the claws, the veterinarian has to amputate the last joint of your cat's "toes". When you envision that, it becomes clear why declawing is not a humane act. And remember that during the time of recuperation from the surgery your cat would still have to use its feet to walk, jump, and scratch in its litter box regardless of the pain it is experiencing.
Potential Complications & Consequences
Removing claws changes the way a cat's foot meets the ground and can cause pain similar to wearing an uncomfortable pair of shoes. Research has demonstrated that, after declawing, cats shift their entire weight more toward the hind legs. This is quite a feat, considering that the front legs normally bear about 60% of the cat’s entire weight.
Declawing results in a gradual weakening of leg, shoulder, and back muscles, and because of impaired balance caused by the procedure, declawed cats have to relearn to walk, much as a person would after losing his or her toes. Over time, this altered stress can contribute to the development of arthritis. In most older declawed cats, the toes are completely “frozen,” immovable even under deep anesthesia.
After being declawed, your cat may experience increased aggressiveness — without her claws, she may bite when she feels cornered. And the pain associated with the procedure may result in urinating and defecating outside the litter box. She may also become more anxious and shy. A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) reported that of those observed, 33 percent of declawed cats developed at least one behavioral problem and 80 percent had more than one medical complication. Declawed cats are also more likely to be surrendered to shelters.
Many people think that declawed cats are safer around babies, but in fact, the lack of claws, a cat’s first line of defense, makes many cats feel so insecure that they tend to bite more often as a means of self-protection.
People who are worried about being scratched, especially those with immunodeficiencies or bleeding disorders, may be told incorrectly that their health will be protected by declawing their cats. However, infectious disease specialists don't recommend declawing. The risk from scratches for these people is less than those from bites, cat litter, or fleas carried by their cats.
Declawing is pretty much an American thing
When considering to declaw your beloved cat, you should know that declawing is pretty much an American thing to do. Many countries have banned declawing and call it "inhumane" and "unnecessary mutilation."
The following is a list of countries in which declawing cats is either illegal or considered extremely inhumane and only performed under extreme circumstances:
The following website "Cat Scratching Solutions" provides many solutions as well as and insight into the psychology of why cats scratch. You can teach your cat to use a scratching post (sisal posts are by far the best). You can trim the front claws. You can also employ aversion methods. One of the best solutions that we have found is Soft Paws®.
Soft Paws® was invented by veterinarian Dr. Toby Wexler, a brilliant veterinarian who wanted to create a humane and effective solution to cat and dog scratching problems. Soft Paws are lightweight vinyl nail caps that you glue on the cat's front claws. They're great for households with small children and are extremely useful for people who are away from home all day and can't exercise the watchfulness necessary to train a cat to use a scratching post. Soft Paws® are easy to apply and last about four to six weeks. They come in clear or colors—which are really fun. Now that's a kitty manicure!
You need to remember, though, that the caps and nail trimming should only be used on indoor cats who will not be vunerable to the dangers of the outdoors.