Cat Declawing: Why You Shouldn’t Do It
If you are a cat owner, there is a good chance you have given cat declawing some thought. This is especially true if your cat is a scratcher. If your cat keeps scratching up your living room furniture, or there are claw marks all over the legs of your antique dining room table, you have probably reached a point where you are willing to do just about anything to solve this problem. And cat declawing might seem like a relatively simple solution.
But it is not as simple a solution as you might think. There can be a lot of negative consequences associated with cat declawing. While having your cat undergo this procedure might keep your furniture from getting scratched up, it could also create a host of new and unexpected problems, things far worse than scratching.
Here are some things you need to know about cat declawing.
Cat declawing is an extremely painful procedure. Which makes a lot of sense when you really think about what declawing entails. It isn’t just removing your cat’s claws. No, the front of each of their toes is amputated at the joint.
Can you imagine someone coming up to you and asking if they could cut off the tips of of all ten of your fingers? Well, that is what cat declawing is; a cat experiencing multiple amputations all at once.
Recovery from cat declawing is a long and slow process. It can take weeks for your cat to even begin to behave somewhat normally again. And while cats that go through a cat declawing procedure are often given the most powerful pain killers a veterinarian can proscribe, even then they won’t experience full relief from the pain. So the pain might be lessened, but it will still be there at all times.
Even after they have “recovered” from the procedure, a cat can suffer from long term effects, like stiffened joints and arthritis.
It Can Cause Behavioral Problems
Many cat owners who have their cats declawed do so to solve a behavioral problem. They want their cat to stop scratching up their furniture, drapes, carpets, and even their clothes. And it’s true that a declawed cat will no longer be able to scratch up your stuff. (After all, with no claws, it will be impossible for them to do so.) But owners of declawed cats report having to deal with a host of other behavioral problems.
It is not uncommon for a declawed cat to stop using their litter box, and to start doing “their business” elsewhere. The reason for this is that walking on kitty litter is very painful for them, especially right after their surgery. Imagine trying to walk down a gravel path with gigantic cuts on the bottoms of both your foot, and you might have some idea how walking on cat litter feels to a declawed cat.
After a while, a declawed cat might begin to associate using the litter box with pain, and they will start to avoid the litter box altogether. And, as a result, they will search for other, less painful areas in your home to urinate and defecate.
Declawed cats exhibit other behavioral problems. Biting is among the most common. And, if you have young children, having a cat that likes to bite can be a huge problem.
There are reasons why so many declawed cats end up being dropped off at animal shelters.
Being Declawed Leaves Your Cat Vulnerable
Cats use their claws to defend themselves. It has been that way since ancient times, when your cat’s ancestors needed to protect themselves from the dangers of the wild. Of course, you might be thinking that your cat doesn’t need to defend themselves. After all, they aren’t living in the wilderness. What threats will they possibly have to face in their own backyard?
But if your cat spends any time outside, there are dangers they will need to be able to protect themselves from. Like the big dog one of your neighbors let roam free throughout the neighborhood. Or bigger cats, who have no qualms about attacking cats that are smaller than them.
Having claws gives your cat a fighting chance if they ever end up in a dangerous, life threatening situation. Without claws, they have no chance at all.
Yes, you could keep your declawed cat in the house all hours of the day and night. But there’s a good chance your cat wouldn’t be very happy if you did so.
Alternatives to Cat Declawing
If scratching is a real problem, of course you have to do something to try to put a stop to it. Fortunately, there are a lot of good alternatives to cat declawing.
A cat scratching post is your first line of defense. If your cat is scratching up your sofa, it’s because something about it appeals to them, like the way it feels against their claws. By buying the right cat scratching post, you can give your cat an even more appealing target.
Nail caps are something you might want to look into. These caps can be glued to your cat’s claws. They won’t cause your cat any pain. And, no matter how hard they try to scratch up your furniture, they won’t be able to do any real damage.
Cat declawing is often touted as the ultimate solution to your cat scratching problems. Instead, it is a “solution” that just causes more (and, in some cases, much worse) problems. No matter who suggests that you have your cat declawed (including the vet), it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your cat. And what will keep them both healthy and happy.