There are those out there who believe that a scratchy cat should be declawed. The concept seems simple enough…if your cat scratches people or furniture too much, just remove the claws!
This is a major fallacy, however, because declawing is not merely the process of cutting a cat’s nails. It is nothing like Nair for nails. People should stop for a second to wonder why a cat’s nails don’t grow back after declawing. WELL—declawing stops cats nails from growing back because it permanently mutilates the cat. It is not the nails that are chopped off, it is the knuckles altogether. That’s right—in order to declaw a cat, the first joint of all the cat’s toes must be removed.
Consider how this might feel on your own hands. Having the nub of each of your fingers cut off would summon one of the most excruciating pains imaginable. We would simply never do this to ourselves. We should likewise never do it to our cats. And not only is it an extremely painful process, but its consequences are horrible and lasting.
A declawed cat faces a number of potential risks, the first of which being infection. Declawing surgery is not a sterile surgery, and thus puts cats in immediate risk of infection, which can be incredibly harmful, if not fatal. Futhermore, it can result in permanent lameness, pain and arthritis. These are torturous experiences for a cat.
And the physical detriments are only accompanied by emotional ones! To declaw a cat is to remove its one primary source of defense; cats are hunters and their claws are their first source of both defense and attack. While this may seem like a clever, safer move to a pet owner, it can cause psychological distress to a cat. Many people insist that their cats undergo emotional duress after having been declawed.
In the words of Dr. Cori Gross, a field veterinarian who specializes in cat care, “The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) reports that there is no scientific evidence linking declawing to behavioral abnormalities or chronic problems…Anecdotally, however, many cat veterinarians feel that we see a correlation between declawing and long-term behavioral issues such as litter box problems.” This is one observation science doesn’t need to make—it is obvious and saddening.
Please think twice before choosing to declaw your cat. This form of amputation is a brutal exercise for a cat. And while you may think this highly painful procedure would be worth it, rather than putting down a cat, for example, it sure is not. Declawing can, and will most likely, lead to residual pain for the remainder of the cat’s life. If this were not enough, it can deal a strong blow to the cat’s confidence and psychological stability, having been stripped of one of its only mechanisms of self-security.
If you love your cat, do not declaw it. Rather, try to train your cat. Buy your cat a scratching post. Talk to your veterinarian about snipping the curved part of your cat’s nails every so often. There are a number of alternatives. But do not put your precious cat through an excruciating procedure that yields irreversible, often highly complicating results.