Declawing is a topic that can elicit strong emotions, with most people coming down on the side of opposing it. Declawing is considered either illegal or inhumane in 25 countries around the world, including England, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Finland and Brazil. The United States lacks sadly behind in establishing legislation to make declawing illegal, but thankfully, more and more cat lovers, cat welfare organizations and veterinarians are speaking out against declawing, calling it inhumane and unnecessary.
Declawing is extremely painful
Declawing is not just nail trimming. The declaw surgery involves amputating the last bone of the cats’ toes. If performed on a human, this would be the equivalent of having the last knuckle of each finger removed. Recovery from this surgery is extremely rough on cats, even with the use of powerful pain medications. Phantom pain may last for months following the surgery, if not for the rest of the cat’s life. Declaw surgery is mutilation, plain and simple.
Declawing leads to health problems
After being declawed, a cat’s gait changes, which may lead to joint problems, including arthritis in the elbows, shoulders and hips.
Declawing leads to behavioral problems
Declawed cats may avoid the litter box because digging in the box will be painful for sensitive paws. Cats may use carpeting or smooth floor surfaces to eliminate instead.
Declawing may change a cat’s personality. “My cat was never the same” is a common complaint heard after declaw surgery. A formerly happy, content cat may become fearful and withdrawn as a result of dealing with the pain following the surgery.
Scratching is a way for cats to stretch by digging their claws into a scratching post or carpet. This is an important way for them to keep their muscles and joints healthy. Once cats are declawed, they lose this natural ability to stretch.
What about laser declawing?
Laser declawing uses a small, intense beam of light to cut through tissue by heating and vaporizing it. This surgery causes less bleeding and swelling than traditional surgery, but it’s still an amputation, and the long term effects of the surgery remain the same.
Declawing is an unnecessary and inhumane procedure that provides no medical benefit to a cat.
The Paw Project
For more information on declawing, please visit The Paw Project. The Paw Project’s mission is to educate the public about the painful and crippling effects of feline declawing, to promote animal welfare through the abolition of the practice of declaw surgery, and to rehabilitate cats that have been declawed.
The following video is the trailer for The Paw Project movie, a documentary that chronicles the happy and unexpected twists of fate that led to the protection of many animals through the grassroots advocacy efforts led by Dr. Conrad and The Paw Project. Warning: this trailer contains some upsetting footage.
For screening locations and times, visit The Paw Project website. I’ll be at the Bethesda, MD screening on October 17; click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
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Photo by Marcin Wichary, Flickr Creative Commons