The perils of declawing
I’m sure many of you when acquiring a new kitten struggle with the decision to have them declawed or not. It’s actually a more common decision than most think, some are quick to jump to declawing, in order to save their furniture. But clawing is a natural instinct cats’ have, they claw to keep their nails healthy, for exercise, and also to mark their territory. Did you know that declawing should not be done unless medically necessary? Neither did I until I owned my first cat.
I asked myself this very question, to declaw or not to declaw? That is when I ran to my social media to ask my followers for first-hand experience/insight on the issue. Many of them were against the idea of declawing and gave me reasons why I shouldn’t declaw my cats unless it is medically necessary for their survival. With additional research, I realized that declawing was not an option for me and my cat family. I’m here to tell you what I learned and why it’s in your feline’s best interest to keep their claws.
Risks of Declawing
First and foremost, declawing your cats can potentially lead to discomfort. You see, people think that the cats nail is the only thing being removed, but many don’t know that when a cat is declawed, they also remove the last joint on each toe. Can you imagine the joints on our toes being chopped off and how uncomfortable that would be for us? Then why do it to your beloved cat. Another reason is that when a cat is declawed, they go through a surgical procedure that includes anesthesia and with surgery comes along possible complications and reactions to the anesthesia and possible nerve damage.
Can you imagine how painful nerve damage could be? It’s so hard for cats to voice pain since they can’t speak. I also learned that a cat’s nail can/may regrow even after being declawed. If it does grow back it grows back under the skin which will cause pain to your feline friend, who again, cannot voice their discomfort. Thirdly, pain after surgery can lead to litter box issues, how? After surgery your kitty’s paws are super sore and sensitive. When using the litter box your cat can associate that pain with the litter box and start going outside of the box. Also, since cats use their claws to mark their territory, when that’s taken away from them their only other way to mark is by going to the bathroom around the house.
Declawing may also cause behavioral issues such as aggressiveness, why? Because declawing a cat also takes away their number one way to defend themselves. When that’s taken away the only other way to defend themselves is by biting. Not only that but by having their claws stripped from them leaves them defenseless and insecure which leads to aggressive behavior, or an attack by the slightest of prodding. Last but certainly not least, is cats lose their ability to defend themselves if they were to get outside. An indoor cat is not exempt from outside, there are instances where a cat may accidentally escape. They lose the capability to defend themselves or climb to get away from predators. Which leaves them vulnerable. These aren’t the one and only reasons to not declaw your cat, but they are the main ones to focus on. Now that we’ve looked at reasons not to declaw, let’s concentrate on ways to keep you and your cat happy while keeping their nails.
Ways to Prevent Scratching
First, trimming your cat’s nails. I learned that by trimming my cats’ nails when they were kittens helped make it much easier for them to tolerate having their nails trimmed now that their older. However, our newest kitten Elena was older when we adopted her so she wasn’t use to nail trimming or even fond of it. But we’ve learned to work with her and slowly introduce nail trimming to her. Some people I know wrap their cats in a towel to help them feel calm but to also limit accidental scratching if they’re cat refuses the trim. Now, what can be done if your cat doesn’t tolerate nail trimming?
You could always opt for nail caps; they sell them at pet stores and even amazon. They are little rubber caps you glue on to the cat’s nail, it allows them to keep their nail but to also keep them from scratching furniture. I’ve never personally used this method and not sure how great it works but may be a good alternative. Also, taking your cat to a cat groomer to have their nails trim professionally is another great alternative. Second, scratching posts. I can’t reiterate this enough!
Cat scratchers are one thing you must invest in with your cat. Having multiple around the house will help keep your cat from scratching on your furniture. Sprinkle some cat nip near or on it and it’ll help attract your cat to it. Also make sure to show your cat that the scratcher is okay to scratch on. It may seem silly, but I take my cats to the scratcher and have them watch me scratch on it, right after they scratch on it. It helps show them what the scratcher is for and to redirect them to it. I usually do this when I see my cats’ want to scratch the couch, and we do that exercise to redirect off the couch and onto the scratcher. There are so many kinds of scratchers too, so a variety will help keep your cat intrigued.
To Declaw or Not to Declaw, There is No Question
From personal experience owning four cats who are not declawed, I can tell you they are the happiest and healthiest cats I’ve known. We use to own a cat when I was younger who was declawed and had severe behavioral issues, so based on that and personal testimonies from friends and family who have owned declawed cats and have described their aggressive behaviors, I solemnly believe declawing contributes to these changes. When these problems develop after a cat is declawed sadly tends to lead to the cat being put in the shelter, because the owner/s can’t deal with the changes after declawing.
So, you must keep in mind that cats have a natural instinct to scratch and how you can give the cat/s an appropriate release for this instinct before even considering adopting or acquiring a feline. I hope that by reading this, you take away some valuable information, continue to research on this issue, and educate yourself on the matters of declawing. We must advocate for those who can’t speak.