Declawing cats is a hot-button issue in the pet community. It is a controversial topic among veterinarians as well. It is not just like a trip to the salon. People often believe that declawing their cats is a harmless “quick fix” for unwanted scratching however, it is a major surgery where the third joint of each toe is cut off.
Reasons not to declaw a cat:
- It is major surgery, 10 separate amputations if only the front paws are declawed
- Anesthetic complications.
- Infection and pain.
- Requires painkiller medication after surgery.
- Can take two to three weeks or longer to recover.
- The cat cannot be left outside unattended because it can’t defend itself.
Reasons to declaw a cat:
- Medical reasons, if the claw is damaged beyond repair or if it has a tumor.
- Elderly owners on blood thinners that can’t be exposed to the bacteria on a cat’s paws.
- Owners whose immune systems are suppressed.
- Cat is being destructive and tearing up furniture and there is no other option.
I do not think the last reason above is a valid reason to have a cat go through surgery to correct their behavior. There are other things that could be done. I included it because some people believe it is simple, painless, and without long-term side effects.
Based off the list, there are more reasons not to declaw than there are to declaw. On the surface that appears to be true, but if it is the only way to keep the cat with the current owner, maybe it is not an entirely bad idea. What would the other alternative be? Taking the cat to the pound, having it put to sleep, or letting it be an outside cat only. None of those would be a better quality of life for the cat. So I think it is better to declaw a cat rather than having to get rid of it.
There some alternatives for declawing. If it is a young cat, it can still be trained to scratch on a scratching post. Claws can be trimmed every 1 to 2 weeks. (Some cats hate this and so do the owners.) There are also deterrents to protect your floors and furnishings. Double stick tape worked for me. Temporary plastic nail caps that are applied every 4 to 6 weeks can also be used.
I adopted a senior cat that had her front paws declawed. She was a sweet, gentle girl. She tried to scratch on the scratching post like all my other cats. She loved to be outside but I had to keep her in the backyard and stay with her so nothing could hurt her. She loved being outside as well as sitting and napping in the sun. Her original name was Lucky but I changed it because I believed, at that time, it was not lucky for a cat to be declawed. I changed her name to Little Foot. She had very little feet. In my heart, I was sad for her, but she did not act as though it caused her any distress. Luckily, It changed the way I looked at this controversial issue because I knew she was alive and well.
In conclusion, scientific data does indicate that cats that have unwanted scratching behavior are more likely to be euthanized, relinquished, released or abandoned; thereby, contributing to the homeless cat population. Like I said earlier, if it is the only option, it is better to declaw a cat rather than get rid of it.