It's one of Mother Nature's laws: cats, dogs, and many other animals come with claws. Claws to scratch things, sometimes inappropriate things. Many cat guardians who genuinely love their charges see declawing as the only solution. But they have no idea what declawing would mean to their furry companions. For them, it might mean the draperies would be safer, but there is nothing good in it for their cat.
Scratching is a typical characteristic of a healthy cat. It exercises his foot muscles and removes dead tissue from his nails. It also has a soothing effect that calms his anxiety. In addition, his retractable claws allow him to establish balance to walk, run, spring, climb and stretch.
Physically, once a cat is declawed, he becomes defenseless against an attack should he roam outdoors or tangle with the family dog in the kitchen. In addition, the surgical procedure shreds his ligaments and tendons, impairing his balance and making him more prone to falling. He will also suffer a gradual weakening of his legs, shoulder, and back muscles.
Emotionally, declawed cats feel defenseless and live in a constant state of stress, making them more prone to disease. Dr. Louis J. Camuti, a practicing veterinarian for 58 years, once proclaimed," I wouldn't declaw a cat if you paid me $1,000 per nail!"
In his writings, Camuti said there are alternative ways to protect the furniture and family members from the kitty's natural scratching behavior. One way is to give the cat a manicure. I've had cats for years, and that statement makes me chuckle. Who is clever and fast enough to trim a cat's nails and expect their own hands back without injury? Perhaps a professional groomer would be the safe alternative.
To help modify scratching behavior, experts suggest providing a feline with his own furniture, like rough and coarse scratching posts, and plenty of catnip-laced toys for satisfying distractions. Nail caps have also been used with mixed reports of success.
If you are up in the air about declawing your cat, consider Dr. Camuti's explanation of the declawing process:
"Declawing is like taking a hatchet to a hangnail â€” literally. It involves ten separate, painful surgeries, severing not just the nails but the whole joint, including the bones, ligaments, and tendons."
Many other veterinarians agree, like Louise Murray, who said, "If you look at your fingers, declawing would be like amputating the last section of each finger. If you were declawed, you would have ten little short fingers. So it's amputation times ten."
You may have trouble finding a willing veterinarian if you decide to have your cat declawed. As reported in a survey of 1,200 feline vets conducted by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), 51% do not declaw cats, and slightly more support legislation banning the procedure. To get a current update on this issue in the veterinary community, I placed a call to my veterinarian. She said most veterinarians do not recommend declawing, and most will refuse to perform the surgery unless there is a medical need.
Currently, declawing is outlawed in Austin, Texas, Denver, Colorado, the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Madison, Wisconsin. It is also banned in eight California cities: West Hollywood, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Culver City, Santa Monica, and Burbank. In 2019, New York became the first state in the United States to outlaw declawing. Maryland became the second in 2022. In addition, there are bills in process in several other states.
Your cat gives you love and loyalty. It's all he's got to give. You owe him the same love and loyalty - and he would be pretty happy if you also left his claws alone.
"Declawing: Taking a hatchet to a catâ€™s nail"
Alley Cat Allies
"Keep Cats' Claws on Their Paws"
American Veterinary Medicine Association
"AVMA revises declawing policy"