Declawing, as the name suggests, is the process of removing the bone in a cat’s paw from where the claws grow. Whether it should be done at all or what methods should be undertaken can lead to a heated debate among cat owners. But frankly, the process does not benefit the feline in any way but, of course; its masters will be hugely helped if it is done. This is because for cats scratching is a natural behavior but for owners, it leads to the destruction of the home decor and the furniture. Even though some countries like Australia, the U.K., many parts of the European Union and ten more countries have banned the practice, owners still insist for the same because of the benefits of declawing a cat. The scratching and destruction lead many felines to be abandoned by their masters; so, some feel that it is better to declaw the animal.
What happens when a cat is declawed?
Declawing in simple terms removing the claw and the bone from which it grows. If the bone is not removed the soft-claws will simply start growing back again. Many people think that the process is similar to cutting off the nails. But it is more painful and traumatic for the animal. Your fur ball is supposed to scratch! The behavior is such to stretch muscles, mark territory, and get rid of the dead husks from the nails. Once they turn 8 weeks old it is normal for a cat to scratch. This is the ideal time for training the feline into using a scratching post.
In declawing, the last bone of each of the feline’s toes is cut off. This is the reason why declawing cats illegal. For human beings that would be like chopping off the fingers from the knuckles.
Methods of declawing
There are different methods when it comes to declawing a cat. The most prevalent method is using the guillotine clipper or the scalpel for amputating the bones. The veterinary doctor uses super glue to seal the wounds and then the paws are bandaged. Sometimes the soft-paws can get cut which take a while to heal.
The second procedure involves using laser beams to amputate the last bone instead of the scalpel. With the use of laser beams, the chances of the cat facing behavioral problems and sometimes lameness, in the long run, does not disappear.
The third option is the tendonectomy. In this procedure, the doctors severe the tendon who control the claws in the toes. Therefore, the claw remains but the cat cannot scratch or control them. The claw, as a result, continues to grow thickly and has to be trimmed every now and then. The side effect includes the nails getting into the paws or snagging the furniture, carpet, etc. Tendonectomy is not the same as declawing but the results are nevertheless the same.
What to expect after declawing a cat
If you have declawed your cat or you are thinking in those lines then special care is very important after the procedure. When you have brought the kitty home expect him or her to be cranky and in pain for some days. Try to provide maximum comfort and a quiet atmosphere so that her can recuperate easily. You will have to administer medicines from time to time and take care of the diet. Declawed cats need to stay inside the house for at least two weeks or more. In the absence of the claws, the cat can no longer chase a bird or animal without infecting the wound.
Once it has healed completely then she can go outside but remember that she is practically defenseless now. The lack of the claws may even affect the balance of the animal so she can fall off trees while climbing them. Remove the bandages cautiously and do not use any scissors in you face difficulty. Call the vet for help if you need it. Your cat will heal in around 6 weeks. If the cat is limping consult your vet because she might be suffering from tendonitis.
Pros and cons to declawing a cat
Some of the arguments for pro declawing include the following:
- Declawing is useful if the cat has not been trained to use the claws properly. Felines should be trained from as early as eight weeks to use their claws properly. Declawing will change the cat’s behavior.
- In case the cat has a tumor in the claw then the process of declawing can be a life saver.
- Cats are normally very good playmates for children. But sometimes when angry or threatened they can lash out at the people of the house. Therefore, a declawed cat can be safely allowed to play with the children.
- Cats by nature claw and scratch at things. Therefore, protecting the furniture and decor of the house is also among the benefits of declawing a cat.
Declawing has quite a few negative effects which include infection, paw pain, tissue death or necrosis, back pain, and even lameness.
- The cat is designed by nature to extend the claws and scratch which is also connected with the way it moves and walks. But when the claws are removed the foot directly falls on the ground and hurts it. The pain is quite similar to what you will experience in uncomfortable footwear. In case the claws are not removed properly they can grow back improperly causing bone spurs, nerve damage, etc. Therefore, this is among the reasons why declawing cats illegal.
- In fact, cat owners use shredded newspaper in the box to prevent the wounds from getting infected by the litter. This substitute and the pain often make the felines averse to using the litter box. In the absence of the claws many resorts to biting for defense.
- Some cats have been known to develop arthritis in their joints and their tendons have to be realigned to provide comfort.
- In declawing, only the front toes are used so that the back claws can be quite damaging and painful. Also, they can make more scratches in the decor and furniture while playing.