Is your cat sharpening their nails on your well-kept furniture? Are you considering declawing your kitty to save precious table legs or a sofa? I hope I can convince you otherwise.
Many people aren’t aware of the negative consequences claw removal can have on their kitties. They believe it’s a routine procedure that doesn’t hurt the cat. But that’s far from the truth. Often enough, the vets whose job is to help pets, fail to educate cat owners on the dangers of this surgery and why they shouldn’t do it.
If you’re thinking of preserving your furniture by removing your feline’s claws, please research the negative sides first. I’m confident you’ll change your mind when you see what’s behind this barbaric procedure.
Keep on reading to learn about the many negative aftereffects of declawing.
- What is declawing?
- Why do cats scratch?
- 8 reasons why declawing is bad
- What to do instead? A few alternatives to declawing
What is declawing?
Declawing is the surgical amputation of all or part of a cat’s toe bones and the attached claws, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. It is a painful surgery with long-term consequences.
Why do cats scratch?
Scratching is kitty’s natural behavior. Many people believe cats scratch only to sharpen their nails, but that is not the sole reason. Cats have scent glands on their paws so when they scratch something, they are marking it as their own. Scratching helps them remain in excellent form, get exercise, stretch their agile bodies, and relieve stress from their bodies.
8 reasons why declawing is bad
Every surgery carries a risk
When the kitty is under surgery, they’re put under anesthesia. Even if it hardly happens (approximately 1 in 100,000 animals will have a reaction to an anesthetic agent), some cats never wake up after being put to sleep for the surgery. Anesthesia should only be used when it’s necessary for the cat’s health. Declawing kitties is an unnecessary procedure that brings a risk of not only a bad reaction to the anesthetic agent but also other health issues I’ll bring up.
The kitty is in pain, often for the rest of their life
Declawing is not nearly as harmless as cat manicure. As said above, the surgery includes claw amputation and the amputation of the toe bones.
How would you feel if someone removed your nails including fingers from the first knuckle? Declawed cats are living through this exact terror. It is a painful procedure with many potential negative effects on the kitty’s health, short term and long term.
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Declawing often leads to:
- paw pain
- tissue death
- nerve damage
- bone spurs
- back pain
Because of the procedure, the cat’s paw is altered so it lies on the ground unnaturally. This causes constant pain for the cat while they are walking. Imagine walking in uncomfortable shoes your whole life. That’s how the kitty feels.
Cat owners remove feline’s claws to avoid one form of negative behavior – scratching. But this often brings even more unexpected negative behaviors.
A declawed feline might:
- get aggressive
- stop using the litter box
- be afraid of their own shadow
I saw a heartbreaking comment in a cat group on Facebook, written by a vet assistant. She wrote about a situation at her vet office when cat owners brought their wonderful kitty to get her declawed. Two weeks later, they returned to get the cat euthanized because, as they said: “The cat became mean.”. Luckily, the vet kept the poor feline as an office cat. Those people obviously don’t deserve a cat but I’m sure many situations such as that one could be prevented if people stopped declawing their cats.
People don’t expect their cat to change after declawing. When the kitty’s behavior changes, owners either can’t handle it and give the cat away, or live with their cat’s new health and behavior issues, regretting what they did. Some felines never get back to their old selves.
Declawed cats are also missing out on their favorite kitty activities. They can no longer enjoy scratching, jumping smoothly as before, or stretching using their claws.
They avoid going to the potty
I know I already mentioned behavioral issues, but this one is the most problematic for cat owners so I want to rehash it once again.
If the mentioned reasons weren’t enough to convince you declawing is bad for the kitty, maybe the fact that your cat might stop using the litter box and pee all over the house will. When a declawed kitty tries to bury their waste, the litter hurts their paws. They associate the litter box with pain so they find alternative places to do their business. They might defecate on your laundry, the carpet, or any other place that doesn’t hurt their paws.
Feline needs to relearn how to walk
Cats rely on their toes that usually include claws too. When the claws and the bone are removed, it impairs their balance so they have a hard time walking right. Even when they relearn, they will never walk as unimpeded as they did.
Not being able to claw brings stress
Clawing is a natural and intuitive cat’s behavior. When the cat is unable to scratch, they become stressed and anxious.
Remember how nice it feels to scratch your nose when it tickles? What a relief! Thankfully, your nails and fingertips are always ready to scratch your nose. For cats, scratching is something as intuitive as scratching our nose is to us. I would hate not being able to scratch my nose when needed. I neither want to deny my cats the ability to scratch their claws when they have the need.
They need their claws to stretch
I’m sure you often saw your cat sticking their claws into something and stretching as much as they can. According to Livescience, this helps them increase blood flow and activates their muscles which removes toxins and waste byproducts from their body. Without their claws, they are not able to stretch as effectively, and their body doesn’t get a full benefit of a good stretch.
The kitty can’t defend themselves
Cat’s nails are their primary defense mechanism. Without them, the feline is constantly scared, frustrated, and anxious because they have no way to defend from the threats. They use teeth for protection instead. It’s not uncommon for a declawed cat to become a biter.
If your declawed indoor kitty ever escapes from the house and gets into a fight with other cats, she wouldn’t stand a chance. Other cats with full on claw equipment would hurt your precious kitty and she could not do a thing.
Still not convinced? See the Paw Project movie about the bad sides of declawing. I didn’t see it myself because it’s quite graphic as I heard, but it gets the message out.
What to do instead? A few alternatives to declawing
- Use different types of scratching posts until you find the one your cat approves and likes to use. Try horizontal scratching post, vertical post, the tall one… One of them will get your cat’s attention.
- Trim kitty’s nails.
- Put Soft Paws nail caps on the cat’s claws if they allow you.
- Feliway spray might help if scratching is stress related.
- When you see your cat scratching the object they shouldn’t, move them to their scratching post.
- When you see your cat using the scratching post, reward them with a treat and praise them.
Cats bring us joy, happiness, cuddles, and lots of love. The least we can do for them is treat them with respect, take good care of them, and love them back. Declawing is not any of those things. The procedure is already illegal in many states. Hopefully, it will be illegal everywhere soon enough. Until then, I hope this post opened your eyes to why declawing your cat is not a good idea. I believe you’ll make the wise decision not to get your cat through this painful procedure.