Arguments for and Against Declawing Cats
De-clawing is an invasive procedure that will change the cat's physiology and seems to go against the laws of nature. Cats are supposed to have claws, which is why they're born with them. Claws are used to catch prey and escape from predators, cover feces, groom, and scratch. Still, for many cat owners, the benefits outweigh the negatives, so the debate continues.
While the act of declawing a cat is illegal or considered inhumane and abusive in 25 countries, Americans still commonly practice this procedure. From the early 1990s through the mid-'00s, declawing became so prevalent in the U.S. that some privately owned apartment leases required tenants to have their cats declawed. However, in 2007, Congress enacted legislation forbidding rules of this nature in publicly subsidized housing.
Declawing is so routine in the U.S. that many veterinarians don't even mention that this is a serious surgery or that there could be lasting consequences to both the cat and the cat's owner. Many cat lovers end up declawing their kitty without realizing what the procedure entails.
There are several ways to declaw a cat. Other than the tendonectomy, each procedure removes the nails as well as the first toe. With a tendonectomy, the tendon that attaches to the cat's toes is severed, leaving the nails intact, but removing the ability to extend the claw. If a cat cannot extend its claw, the cat cannot scratch. Though this procedure is less invasive and offers a quicker recovery time, it is also linked to a higher risk of arthritis.
Benefits of Declawing
The main benefit of declawing a cat is to the homeowner. A cat that can't scratch can't ruin furniture, doorways, and carpets. Replacing furniture and carpets is expensive, and while cat scratching posts can be purchased for just this reason, some kitties simply can't or won't conform. Unfortunately, when that happens, declawing or getting rid of kitty is the only viable answer.
Another upside of declawing may be the protection of small children or other pets. While most cat owners love their felines, the pet becomes secondary when there is a baby or toddler in the house. If an older pet is incapable of defending itself, declawing a growing cat may protect it from abuse.
Problems with Declawing
Declawing a cat is a painful surgery with a painful recovery period. In essence, declawing is the amputation of the cat's toes at the first joint.
Unfortunately, because cats walk on their toes, declawing alters the way a cat moves and can cause backaches similar to what a human experiences when wearing ill fitting shoes. Because declawing results in removal of the cat's primary mode of defense and method of catching prey, a declawed cat cannot feed or defend itself and should not be allowed outdoors or in situations where it may be forced to go up against another pet.
After cats have been declawed, some pet owners have noticed their pet undergoing a personality change. Some cats have been known to bite and resort to house soiling after being declawed. This is probably because of the pain associated with covering their feces in the litter box. Biting may occur because the cat has lost its primary mode of defense, leaving it confused and frightened.
Usually, with time and plenty of love, the cat's loving personality will return. It's important to note that there are alternatives to declawing, such as clipping the claws or covering them with a soft material. Unfortunately, these alternatives are not as convenient as declawing and are often overlooked by owners.