Declawing cats is an emotional issue and often debated topic.  There is a constant disagreement between pet owners, animal rights activists, and veterinarian groups about what is best for your pet cat.

Some people feel it’s unnatural to remove a cat’s claws, and it’s done for the owner’s benefit rather than the cats’. When the cat undergoes the procedure, he or she goes through pain and there can be complications afterward.

Vets should only surgically remove a cat’s claws if other options have not worked, or if the cat’s scratching could pose risk to a person.

If the declawing procedure was illegal, it would make some owners abandon their cats, or not bring them into their homes at all, leaving many at risk of homelessness or euthanasia. When homeless cats are already a problem in Vancouver, this is a big concern.

How Do Vets Declaw A Cat?

There are several different techniques to declawing a cat. The vet has to remove the little piece of bone that the claw grows from. If you don’t, the claw will try to grow back. The less the vet removes, the better, and that’s where the differences in techniques come in.  There’s an instrument with a sliding blade that cuts a straight line through the joint between two pieces of bone

When you do that, right underneath that is the pad, and you actually cut that right in half too. So it’s like cutting the tip of your finger off.

With cosmetic declawing, you use a tiny curved blade to go in and dissect out the claw and the tiny piece of bone. The pad is intact; all the soft tissue is there. So the cat is walking comfortably very quickly because its pads are fine. When the pads are cut in half, the cat can’t walk on them without discomfort. That’s what cats put their weight on. And they can’t walk on them comfortably for weeks. Most of the pain comes from the trauma to the soft tissue.

Should You Declaw Your Cat?

There are some arguments as to why you should declaw your cat. Medically, sometimes you have to remove a claw if the claw is damaged beyond repair or if it has a tumor.

Sometimes it’s also trauma to the owners. There are people whose immune systems are suppressed or the elderly on blood thinners who can’t be exposed to the bacteria on a cat’s claws.

But the majority of cats get declawed become they are being destructive and tearing up furniture.

There are alternatives to declawing, and owners look at declawing as a last resort. But if it keeps the owners from giving up their cats, euthanizing them, or making them outside cats, I think it’s a realistic option.

If you declaw your cat you shouldn’t let him or her outside. Letting your cats out after they’ve been declawed would be bad because they can’t defend themselves properly. Therefore, owners have to be committed to keep the cat indoors for the rest of its life or to find a family that can do so.

Before you consider declawing, try to modify your cat’s behaviour.  When somebody brings you a kitten, try training them to use a scratch post. It can be very effective but it’s much less successful with adult cats.

Trimming nails, if you do it weekly, can help if the problem is scratching people, but it won’t stop a cat from damaging furniture. Think about the reasons cats scratch: to stretch and to sharpen their claws. So if you cut their claws, they just want to sharpen them more.

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