Declawing cats

The topic of declawing cats can be a contentious one. There are plenty of people both for and against it with a number of valid reasons on both sides. Usually when a family gets a new kitten or cat the question gets asked. Should we declaw it, or let them keep their claws? While we at C&R Family Pets would prefer that you don’t declaw your cats, we want to educate people on exactly what happens during the declawing process. This way you can make an informed decision on what is best for your family.

What is Declawing?

Declawing involves removing the claws from the paws of cats. There can be many reasons for this, to prevent your cats from scratching your furniture or hurting your family members. It may be convenient to the family but it can be very painful for your cats. This is because the cat’s claws are attached to their knuckles. The last bone of each toe needs to be amputated to keep the nails from growing back. 

Many believe that declawing is a simple surgery but in reality it can cause a lot of discomfort to your cat. It may lead to several medical conditions in the future and can also cause behavioral problems. Most animal groups recommended against declawing cats. There are a couple ways cats can be declawed.

Different Methods to Declaw Your Cats

Blade Declawing

This is the standard method that uses a scalpel or a guillotine clipper (consisting of a sliding blade) to cut a straight line. The line is cut through the bone where the claw grows. It’s like slicing off the tip of your finger. The wounds are then closed with stitches and the paws are bandaged.

Laser Surgery

Another method to declaw cats is by using a high intensity laser. An intense ray of light cuts the tissue by heating and vaporizing the last bone on the toe. This can result in less bleeding but is more expensive than blade declawing. It can also result in shorter recovery times and the long term implications are the less than blade declawing.

Why You Shouldn’t Declaw Your Cats

Declawing a cat is similar to having the last digit of your fingers removed. The cats may have to undergo extreme pain but that is only one of the many concerns. There can be many complications that can arise after surgery.

Difficulty Walking

When the claws are cut it makes it difficult for cats to walk comfortably. The pain from the surgery can make it extremely painful for them to walk. For a few weeks, you may see them struggling to walk normally. This is because the claws provide support when they walk. Make sure you give them their pain medication as prescribed to lessen the pain they must deal with.

Behavioral Problems

There can be many behavioral problems like aggression and biting. This is because claws are their first line of defense and cats have a natural instinct to scratch. If they don’t have claws they may turn to biting. They may also become timid.

Litter Box Problems

The cats may have a problem using the litter box because of the discomfort caused by declawed paws. This prevents them from scratching inside the litter box. It can cause them extreme pain while moving the litter. Some cats may even stop using the litter box. This can be a big problem to keep your home clean. It’s generally a temporary problem and you can contact your vet to get more medicine to help your cat feel better. 

Health Complications

In as often as 25 to 50%of declaw surgeries declawed cats can develop health complications like infection, pain and hemorrhage. Improperly removed claws can also lead to regrowth that will cause a bone spur and nerve damage to your cat. 

Why You May Want to Declaw Your Cats

Though declawing is not recommended, sometimes it can be necessary for the following reasons

Medical Conditions

If someone in your family has immunodeficiencies or bleeding related health concerns, then you might decide to declaw your cats. Any blood loss can be fatal for them, including accidental cat scratches. Declawing will completely prevent the cats from scratching them.

Abnormal Behavior

A sudden change in behavior may cause them to act aggressively with the family members or scratch your furniture. While many owners will give up the cat for adoption, some family members may want to keep their cats with them. In this case, declawing can help prevent your cat from causing damage to your property or hurt your family.

Alternatives to Declawing Cats

There can be many ways that cats can be kept from scratching their claws on things

Scratching Posts

Having scratching posts is the best way to stop cats from scratching your furniture. Several scratching posts can be placed around your house. If you see them scratching things like furniture and floor, take them to the nearest scratching post. You may also try experimenting with different materials for the scratch post like wood, carpet, sisal and cardboard to see which one your cat likes to scratch the most.

Trimming Their Nails Regularly

While this can require a lot of effort and patience, it’s a good alternative to having their claws removed. You can trim their nails short to minimize the damage to your furniture. Trimming is not fully effective to stop cats from damaging your furniture. They’ll still have pointed nails that will allow them to shred furniture.

Soft Claws

Soft Claws are nail caps that slide over a cat’s nails. They still require you to trim your cat’s nails every few weeks, but as long as they wear the nail caps your cat can’t scratch you or shred your furniture. This is an easy to use solution to keep your cat from using its claws in a destructive way.

It might take a little getting used to for them, but after a few weeks of wearing them they shouldn’t fight you anymore when you replace them. The people that use this love the color it adds to their cats paws. It looks like they are wearing nail polish.

Related Questions:

Should I Declaw Only the Front Claws, or All 4?

While there are many valid arguments to have the front claws removed, there really aren’t any to have the rear claws removed. If you decide to remove their claws, for the health and comfort of your cat we recommend that you leave the rear claws intact.