When I adopted my first cat years ago, I knew that she would be a “house-cat”, so I briefly considered having her declawed in an effort to save my home and body from her destructive claws. Fortunately, I did some research on the process of declawing and was shocked to discover what was really involved when a cat is declawed. Declawing cats is rare outside North America, as a matter of fact; it is illegal in many other countries. It is likely that the reason so many of these unnecessary painful procedures are being performed in the US, is due to the same misconceptions I had regarding declawing, and that cat lovers simply do not know the facts and risks involved in declawing their cat.
Cats’ claws are for more than scratching
Cats belong to a group of mammals that are digitigrades, which means that they walk on their toes. Therefore, cats’ muscles, ligaments, and their bones are designed to support and distribute their weight across their toes, which include their claws. A cat’s claw is not the equivalent to a human fingernail; it is attached to bone, tendons, and ligaments, and is used similarly to how we use our fingers and toes. Imagine what you would experience if someone amputated your toes! With their claws removed, cats can experience pain in their back and joints because they no longer have a way to distribute their weight evenly, possibly leaving them with a permanent gait and, or, painful limp. In addition, cats stretch by digging their claws into a surface for traction. Removal of the claw will prevent kitty from getting a good stretch, which we all know cats thoroughly enjoy, and need for strengthening their muscles. Even if a cat is considered a “house-cat”, accidents happen, and cats get out. Without claws, a cat will no longer have any defense over other animals, and he will have difficulty climbing in an effort to escape a threat.
The procedure – Onychectomy
An onychectomy is a surgical procedure; complete with the use of anesthesia, which declaws your cat. The process involves removing the third phalanx, which is the last bone of the toe, along with the claw….10 times. Removing the bone ensures that the claw will not grow back. This would be the equivalent of having a human finger amputated at the first joint. Now remember, your cat “walks” on his toes. While your cat is recuperating from surgery, he will still have to walk, use the litter box, and go about his necessary activities, experiencing pain in the process.
Complications and the aftermath
Before describing some of the complications that can…