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Declaw or Don’t: Should You Declaw Your Cat?

family-footerDid you recently buy a new kitten or adopt an adult cat from a local shelter? Congratulations on the new addition to your home! As you check important items off your to-do list—buy cat food and a litter box, get the animal licensed, have your pet neutered/spayed—you may wonder if getting your cat declawed should be on your list. Learn more about this procedure, why some pet owners choose to have it done, and why you should only declaw your cat if it’s absolutely necessary.

How Is a Cat Declawed?

Different techniques are used to declaw cats—from a sliding blade to a laser—but the outcome is the same: the claw and the small bone it grows from are removed. Essentially, this is the same as slicing through the third joint of your finger and cutting the tip off.

Reasons to Declaw Your Cat

As you can imagine, many people are against declawing because of its perceived cruelty. So why do some pet owners still want to declaw their cat? Here are the top reasons why:

  • Trauma to the owners: Perhaps the number one reason that owners declaw their cats is because those sharp little claws can deal out a lot of damage. Scratches on a newborn’s face or cuts to an immunocompromised person’s arm are not acceptable to many cat owners.
  • Trauma to the furniture: Cats love to sharpen their claws. Without a good scratching post, many will tear up the carpet or furniture. When a feisty kitty ruins an expensive armchair, you can imagine how upset the owner may become.
  • Euthanasia is the only alternative: If either of the above issues are serious enough that the owner is considering getting rid of or euthanizing the cat, declawing is the lesser of two evils.
  • Medical reasons: It’s possible for a cat’s claw to become damaged beyond repair or a tumor to grow in the paw. Removing the claw and affected bones and tissues may be necessary to improve the cat’s health.

Reasons Not to Declaw Your Cat

Besides putting your cat through the temporary pain of surgery, consider these other reasons not to declaw your cat:

  • Litter box avoidance: Some types of kitty litter are painful to a kitty’s tender, newly declawed paws. This may encourage the cat to avoid the litter box and make messes in the house.
  • Biting: A declawed cat lacks his primary form of defense, which may result in biting instead of scratching.
  • Behavior changes: Some cats opt for the “flight” rather than the “fight” response when feeling threatened, which may result in withdrawn and depressed behavior in previously playful cats.
  • Crippling: A declaw job gone wrong can cause bits of bone to become stuck in the cat’s paws. This can create ongoing pain and stiffness in the legs, preventing the cat from walking normally.
  • There are alternatives! Instead of removing your cat’s claws, trim them regularly, provide irresistible scratching posts or have your vet glue on Soft Paws. These humane alternatives can solve many of your problems without resorting to declawing.

The Bottom Line…

With all the possible complications from declawing—not to mention the cruelty of removing a vital survival component from a beautiful animal’s body—it’s clear that you should only consider declawing as a last resort. Because of the new knowledge surrounding the cruelty of declawing, may vets don’t even offer the service anymore, including Germantown Vet Clinic.

For more useful tips to help your cat live a long and healthy life, please contact us online today or by phone at (301) 972-9730.

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