TO DECLAW or NOT TO DECLAW?
Education Before Decision
WHY DO PEOPLE DECLAW?
Declawing is something people do for their own convenience without knowing what actually happens to their beloved cat.
WHAT IS DECLAWING?
Declawing is NOT a manicure. It is serious surgery. Your cat’s claw is not a toenail. It is connected to the bone. To remove the claw, the last bone of your cat’s toe has to be removed.
Declawing is an amputation of the last knuckle on each toe, cutting through bone, tendons, skin, and nerves. In a person, it is equivalent to amputating each finger or toe at the last joint. This surgery is the same for big cats.
Please watch the Declaw Surgery video by PawProject (to the right) because it contains information from the Paw Project. This video shows the actual process of claw removal. Also shown are the physical results of the declawing process as well as the after effects of the surgery.
The video above shows the actual surgical procedure. Please notice: The veterinarian uses a tournaquet to keep the blood from shooting out of the severed blood vessels in the toe ends.
The video above shows animated declawing surgery.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER DECLAWING?
Knowing that declawing is actually several separate amputations, it becomes clear why declawing is not a humane act. It is painful surgery, excruciating recovery period, serious health risks, and complications such as infection and death. Remember that during the time of recuperation from the surgery, your cat will still have to use its feet to walk, jump, and scratch in its litter box regardless of the pain it is experiencing. Wheelchairs and bedpans are NOT an option for a cat.
Cat lovers know that cats suffer pain but hide it well. Cats are proud. They instinctively know that they are at risk when in a weakened position, and by nature will attempt to hide it. But make no mistake: This is not a surgery to be taken lightly.
Your cat’s body is perfectly designed to give it the grace, agility, and beauty that is unique to felines. Its claws are an imperative part of this design. Amputating the vital part of their anatomy that contains the claws drastically alters the conformation of their feet. The cat is also deprived of its primary means of defense, leaving it victim to predators if it ever escapes to the outdoors.
IS DECLAWING CRUEL?
David E. Hammett, DVM
By Suzanne Bucciarelli
Yes, it is. To remove a cat's claws is far worse than to deprive cat owners of their fingernails. This is because the claws have so many important functions in the life of a cat. A declawed cat is a maimed cat, and anyone considering having the operation done to his pet should think again. People hastily declaw cats hoping to protect their furniture as well as themselves from potential scratches. It's natural for a cat to scratch, but with a little human effort, you can direct that energy so that you, your cat, and your furniture can comfortably live together.
Consider the facts. To begin with, it is important that every cat should keep itself well groomed. A smooth, clean coat of fur is essential for a cat's well-being. It is vital for temperature control, for cleanliness, for waterproofing, and for controlling the scent signaling the feline body. As a result, cats spend a great deal of time every day dealing with their toilet. In addition to the typical licking movements, they perform repeated scratchings. These scratching actions are a crucial part of the cleaning routine, getting rid of skin irritations, dislodging dead hairs, and combing out tangles in the fur. Without claws, it is impossible for any cat to scratch itself efficiently, and the whole grooming pattern suffers as a result. Even if the human owners help out with brush and comb, there is no way they can replace the sensitivity of the natural scratching response of their pet. Anyone who has ever suffered an itch that can't be scratched will sympathize with the dilemma of the declawed cat.
It has been argued that a declawed cat can learn to use its teeth more when grooming. It is true that cats often nibble an irritation rather than scratch it, but unfortunately, some of the most urgent scratching requirements are in the region of the head, mouth, neck, and especially, the ears. Teeth are useless here, and these important parts of the body cannot be kept in perfect condition with only clawless feet to groom them.
A second problem faces the declawed cat when it tries to climb. Climbing is second nature to all small felines, and it is virtually impossible for a cat to switch off its urge to climb, even if it is punished for doing so. And punished it certainly will be if it attempts to climb after having its claws removed, for it will no longer have any grip in its feet. Even the simple act of climbing up onto a chair or a window ledge may prove hazardous. Without the pinpoint contact of the tips of the claws, the animals may find themselves slipping and crashing to the ground. The expression of disbelief and confusion that is observed on the faces of such cats as they pick themselves up is in itself sufficient to turn any cat lover against the idea of claw removal. If the cat accidentally gets out of doors, it is defenseless against enemies (other cats in a cat fight, dogs, mean humans, etc.). In addition, scratching offers psychological comfort through its rhythmic action, and reassurance of self-defense by the contraction of the claws.
In addition to destroying the animal's ability to groom, climb, defend itself against rivals, and protect itself from enemies, the operation of declawing also eliminates the cat's ability to hunt. This may not be important for a well-fed family pet, but if ever such a cat were to find itself lost or homeless, it would rapidly die of starvation. The vital grab at a mouse with sharp claws extended would become a useless gesture.
In short, a declawed cat is a crippled, mutilated cat, and no excuse can justify the operation. Despite this, many pet cats are carried off to the vet by exasperated owners for this type of convenience surgery. The operation, although nearly always refused by vets in Britain, has become so common in certain countries that it even has an official name. It is called onyxectomy. Using an old Greek name for it somehow makes it seem more respectable. The literal translation of onyxectomy, however, is simply "nail-cutting out" and that is what vets are doing, even though they may not like to be reminded of the fact when they record their day's work.
The consequences of declawing are often pathetic. Changes in behavior can occur. A declawed cat frequently resorts to biting when confronted with even minor threats. Biting becomes an overcompensation for the insecurity of having no claws. Bungled surgery can result in the regrowth of deformed claws or in an infection leading to gangrene. Balance is affected by the inability to grasp with their claws. Chronic physical ailments such as cystitis or skin disorders can be manifestations of a declawed cat's frustration and stress.
The reason for the popularity of the declawing operation in recent years has been the concern of owners for their furnishings. Valuable chair fabrics, curtains, cushions, and other materials are often found scratched, torn, and tattered as a result of the family cat's claw sharpening activities around the house, and the addition of commercially manufactured scratching posts to the indoor furniture rarely seems to solve the problem by itself. It takes other measures by the pet owner in combination with an alternative scratching area. Home furnishings are expensive, but a cat's well-being is priceless.
Scratches to humans can be avoided by always handling cats gently and respectfully and keeping a cat's claws clipped (described in my care and grooming section of the Dandy Lions home page) is the single best way to prevent scratches to humans, as well as to reduce a cat's need for scratching to keep nails sharpened.
Your cat should trust you, and depend upon you for protection. Don't betray that trust by declawing your cat. Below are safe alternatives to declawing your cat.
Six Simple Alternatives to Declawing Your Cat
Damage to cats' feet & the problems related to declawing can be prevented by NOT declawing cats in the first place.
- A tall, sturdy and heavy scratching post sprinkled occasionally with catnip is the favored alternative. Some cats are partial to sisal doormats.
- When selecting furniture, a closely woven fabric is the best. Cats find this type of fabric difficult to pierce with their claws.
- When your cat begins to scratch on a piece of furniture, give him a firm warning such as "No, Kitty!" and then give him a quick squirt from a mister or water pistol. This should discourage him. Then call him to his scratching post with a food treat and praise him when he comes and uses the post. This may have to be done over and over until he understands.
- If accustomed to the procedure, cats will tolerate having the curved part of their claws clipped regularly. Consult your veterinarian for instructions.
- Until your cat learns that only the scratching posts (it's recommended that you have several), are for scratching, cover his favorite furniture scratching areas with either one or a combination of aluminum foil, a loosely woven fabric, double-sided tape, or blown up balloons taped to the furniture.
When playing with a kitten or cat NEVER use your hand or arms in play. This teaches him that people are toys and he may scratch simply in play. Each time your cat scratches you, give him a loud "OUCH" and leave the room. One of the most effective punishments for a cat is being ignored.Scratching is the very essence of a cat being a cat. These simple, inexpensive modifications in your cat's behavior and environment can eliminate damaged furniture and scratched humans.
Remember, declawing is radical surgery that involves amputating the first joint of a cat's toes. It's permanent, expensive, and irreversible, and may have unwanted affect on your cat's behavior. Please consider other alternatives such as SOFTPAWS nail caps before committing your cat to surgery.
Article by Susan on Pictures of Cats.org
Declaw surgery can produce permanent lameness, pain or arthritis. Your cat’s personality will change for the worst after being declawed, although much of the medical community does not recognize this side effect.
For a firsthand account, talk to anyone who has lost a limb.
Top of Page
Declaw presentation November 2010
Preliminary observations of senior declaw pathology study.
PowerPoint reader needed from here
PowerPoint presentation here
THE DECLAWING PROCEDURE
The Smell of the Blood of a Declawed Cat by Michael, (London, UK)
A vet tech who is painfully honest tells us that she can recognize the smell the blood of a declawed cat. She can recognizes the smell of a range of operations but declawing causes a lot of blood to flow and the cat tears at the bandages in an attempt to ease the pain in his feet and ends up causing the horrible wounds to open. She also says that after the declaw operation, "I feel like the scum of the earth..."
This story concerns Nala, a Ragdoll cat. She is sheltered by Midwest Friends of Animals, Inc. Jasonville, IN, USA. I take the liberty of quoting verbatim from the vet tech's article as it is very poignant and informative. Could she come forward a leave a comment? She deserves a medal. I hope she is still in work.
Nala was declawed by her "owners". Her owners then didn't like Nala's behavior and relinquished her.
I don't know the name of the vet tech that provides this honest account on Petfinder.com but I feel an obligation to spread the story to inform people who simply are not aware of what they are doing.
The declaw operation is also described by this vet tech and it seems brutally quick.
The procedure is sort of a half pull, half cut kind of thing. The nail clippers are doing their best to saw through the joint while the hemostats are ripping it away. And please make no mistake here, this isn't a nail trim. A cat's first joint, just like on your finger, is being ripped out. Nala utters a half growl/meow of pain as the joint tears away, even after all this medicine..."
The vet fills the gaping wound where the claws where with glue..."and squeezes it together for a few seconds...”
The day after the operation the vet tech has to re-bandage the wound and re-glue some of the mess.
"I drop some goo into Nala's socket and squeeze her tender and bruised deformed little toes together for several seconds. This hurts. A lot. And I feel like the scum of the earth...
Back to the shelter. Nala is not the girl she once was. The vet tech describes her condition far better than I could:
"She is very 'soured' on life in general and will also bite out of frustration, thanks to the owners who mutilated her and left her.
She has a safe and caring foster home and while we realize she will likely never be adopted and will have to live as a foster cat for her remaining years...
Do you want to put your cat through all that?
Please think again if you are considering declawing your cat. Don't take what the vet says as the truth. It isn't. It is biased. The truth is here on this page.
See the full story here: NALA (opens in a new window)
Top of Page
OTHER HARMFUL-TO-CATS PROCEDURES THAT VETS PERFORM:
Sunday, 12 July 2009
"Performing a tenectomy or tendonectomy on cats is a cynical way for American veterinarians to wriggle around the impossible moral difficulties that they face when carrying out the brutal and unnecessary declawing procedure.
"Declawing is big in America. It is simply big business (about $20 billion on my estimate) and it is that which drives vets to do it. But despite all the feeble attempts to justify what is cosmetic surgery for the benefit of the cat owner (and to dress it up otherwise is nonsense) declawing is a problem for vets. Some even refuse to do it! I am shocked!
On the basis that declawing does present moral questions for a small percentage of American veterinarians they had to devise an alternative that seemed more acceptable to the public. A procedure that repackaged the process but which still brought in those precious dollars.
And they came up with the procedure of tenectomy or tendonectomy on cats (it can be performed on other animals). This procedure is defined as "the surgical resection of part of a tendon". Notice the jargon of the word, "resection". Resection means, "the partial or complete removal of an organ or other bodily structure". In other words the procedure of tenectomy or tendonectomy on cats is the cutting and removal of a part of the tendon of the cat which in turn is part of the mechanism that controls the extension (flexing) of the cat's claws.
In removing this piece of the cat's anatomy the cat's claws cannot be retracted (drawn in) and are rendered almost useless, as I understand it. The after effects are as high as for declawing (although this is still work in progress it would seem). Incidentally, the level of short-term after surgery complications for declawing is not as low as some vets make out. They can be as high as 50% and in the long term as high as 20% "Feline Onychectomy at a Teaching Institution: A Retrospective Study of 163 Cases," Veterinary Surgery, Vol. 23, no. 4 (July-August 1994): 274-280). My thanks to this website: catclinicofnorman.com.
The procedure of tenectomy or tendonectomy on cats is becoming increasingly common. The cat owner will need to trim and maintain the cat's claws regularly after the operation. I wonder whether they do bearing in mind that a request to carry out this procedure is likely to come from people who are not that inclined to devote a lot of time to their cat? This may result in more health problems for the cat.
As the procedure is newish there have been no long term analysis as to its effects on cat welfare. On that basis alone it should not be carried out or recommended by veterinarians and in any case it is the same story. A wholly unnecessary surgical procedure that is prohibited under the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals (note: the procedure is not referred to by name as it is new but is still covered by the convention under Art 10 as it is non-curative and totally unnecessary in respect of benefit to the animal).
Article 10 – Surgical operations
- Surgical operations for the purpose of modifying the appearance of a pet animal or for other non-curative purposes shall be prohibited and, in particular:
- the docking of tails;
- the cropping of ears;
- declawing and defanging;
- Exceptions to these prohibitions shall be permitted only:
- if a veterinarian considers non-curative procedures necessary either for veterinary medical reasons or for the benefit of any particular animal;
- to prevent reproduction.
This procedure simply adds to the problem of the unethical approach of American veterinarians in regards to their propensity to conduct non-curative operations on cat companions.
From Tenectomy or tendonectomy on Cats to Home Page
Top of Page