Cat Declawing

Is Cat Declawing Ever Necessary?

Cats scratching can ruin furniture and home decor, causing frustration and expense.

Scratching is perfectly natural cat behavior, they do it to mark out their territory, stretch their muscles and to remove the dead, worn fragments of nail from their claws.

There are many ways to overcome the problem of your cat scratching your valued possessions. Declawing your cat is not the answer.

This page attempts to show you that the surgical removal of a cats claws is cruel, unnecessary and in many parts of the world illegal.

Cat Declawing. What Does It Involve?

Declawing does not just mean removing your cat's claws.

It involves cutting off each of your cat's front toes at the front joint by guillotine, scalpel or laser.

You should be in no doubt of the fact that this surgery, even though anesthetics are used, is painful.

Recovery from cat declawing takes three weeks or more, but even after your cat's surgical wounds have healed, there can be long term physical and emotional effects.

Complications from declawing can often arise, sometimes needing further surgery.

These complications from declawing include, the claw re-growing inside the paw (painful), abscess, hemorrhage, infection leading to gangrene, joint stiffness and arthritis.

cat's paw

How Will Cat Declawing Affect Your Cat

Cats that have been declawed do not have the ability to fight off another cat or dog. Outdoor cats are particularly at risk from injury, or even death, if they do not have their claws for defense.

A cat will not make the fight or flight decision based on whether it has had its claws removed or not.

If it makes the stand and fight decision a claw-less cat will be at a disadvantage.

If the cat makes a run for it the absence of claws inhibits its ability to climb in order to escape. Remember that if yours is an indoor cat, you cannot guarantee that she or he will never escape into the outside world.

A cat naturally walks on its toes, that is how it is designed. Cat declawing, the removal of part of its toes, causes it to walk on the wounds left behind, the result... pain.

The toes help the feet meet the ground at the proper angle, declawing alters the symmetry of their paws and causes the paws to touch the ground at an incorrect angle, the result... pain.

Marked changes in behavior after cat declawing are often noticed. Cats who were playful and friendly often become timid, or solitary after being declawed.

Deprived of their claws as a means of defense, some cats become excitable, tense, and can be very aggressive.

The stress, caused by a feeling of vulnerability, can make some cats that have been declawed prone to diseases such as cystitis, skin disorders and irritable bowel syndrome.

Cat declawing can cause a serious amount of distress by depriving a cat of satisfying its natural impulse to climb, exercise, chase around and to mark out its territory through scratching.

Many cats for some weeks after having their claws removed, find that using their Litter Box is painful, this is because their paws are still tender.

They are more likely to associate the pain with the litter box than with declawing, and this can mean the cat refusing to use the box, not just for the time its paws are tender, but for the rest of its life.

In some cases, cats that cannot mark with their claws (cats scratch to mark their territory by using the scent glands in their paws), mark with their urine instead, which can mean urine soaked carpets and flooring.

Felines often become more territorial when they have their principal means of defense removed and it’s likely that they will urine mark territory.

Declawing of Cats, the World's Attitude

Cat declawing is illegal, or determined to be inhumane, in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain, Malta, Slovenia, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway, Japan, Bosnia, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Estonia, Latvia, Yugoslavia.

Update 2015 New York State may be the first state to issue a ban on declawing of domestic cats. A change in the law is being sought by Manhattan Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal an advocate for the well-being of animals.

Update 2011 On Monday November 28th 2011 Israel’s parliament the Knesset banned de-clawing cats except for medical necessity. A coalition of political parties back the measure.

Claws are necessary for a cat’s survival.

West Hollywood bans cat declawing...

On April 8 2003 West Hollywood City Council voted 5-0 to prohibit declawing of cats within their city limits, becoming the first council anywhere in the United States to enact such a ban.

Update January 2006: Sadly it seems this ban has been overturned. The California VMA sued West Hollywood City Council, declaring the city had infringed on veterinarians’ rights to practice within the range of their license.

The Los Angeles Superior Court agreed and directed against the city ban on the declawing of cats on November 30th 2005.

Update June 2007 The Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles ruled two to one that a city can regulate the conduct of professionals, as long as it does not prohibit procedures that state law expressly allows.

Justice Dennis Perluss said West Hollywood has the authority to “set minimum standards for the humane treatment of animals within its borders.”

The decision now makes it a crime to perform declawing surgery within city limits, except for therapeutic purposes such as removal of infected tissue. It does not forbid bringing a declawed cat into the city.

Update 2009 : Seven more Californian cites have joined West Hollywood in banning the declawing of cats. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Burbank, Beverly Hills, Culver City, Berkeley and Santa Monica.

The Acceptable Alternatives to Declawing

You can find plenty of advice on training your cat to use a scratching post on this page Cat Behavior. and on this page Scratching Posts If at first you do not succeed in persuading your cat not to scratch your furniture, then try, try and try again. Remember that declawing is not an alternative.  

Cat Nail Covers

Cat nail covers are vinyl or rubber covers that are glued over your cat’s nails. Cat owners report that these nail caps are easy to apply and most cats tolerate them well. The caps do fall off after a time as the nail grows but they are so inexpensive that replacement is no problem.

Cats will still scratch when wearing the covers but will not be likely to cause damage because their claws are covered. For many cats, nail covers are an effective and humane alternative to declawing.

Nail Trimming

Keeping kitty’s nails trimmed will not stop her from scratching at your furniture if that’s what she is inclined to do, but trimmed nails will lessen the effect of her scratching.

It’s best to start training your feline to have her claws trimmed while he or she is still a kitten, but with care cats of any age can be trimmed. Your veterinarian may trim your cat’s nails or alternately show you the correct way to do it.

Care needs to be taken or damage can be done.

The view of The ASCPA on The Declawing of Cats

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