If you've ever had a cat sit on your lap and knead you with their claws, you'll know how painful their talons can be. Declawing surgery can help to make life with your cat less uncomfortable, although this procedure has been banned in many countries including England, France, Brazil, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand. While the procedure has been banned in some U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Berkeley, San Francisco, and Beverly Hills, there have also been calls recently to ban cat declawing across the State of New York.
How Is a Declaw Surgery Performed?
Declawing surgery (also known as onchyectomy) is quite a technical procedure. The claw alone isn't removed, but instead the last bone of the toe is amputated to make sure there is no regrowth of the nail. It's much like removing the tip of our fingers from the first knuckle joint. An alternative to declawing is cutting the tendon that is responsible for extending the claws. The claws are still present, but they can't be used to grasp at things.
Pet parents choose to declaw their cats for a number of reasons. One is to prevent their pet from scratching the furniture, which is a natural behavior for cats and difficult to stop. In some cases, people wish to avoid injuries from cat scratches to people with weak immune systems. Lastly, cats can develop tumors on their toes and under these circumstances, amputation of the toe and claw is very necessary.
There can be ongoing complications associated with declawing surgery. Some cats suffer from chronic pain, which then leads to changes in behavior and toileting habits. In some cases, there is regrowth of the nail, which leads to pain and infection as it grows into the paw pads. There can also be alterations in their gait that can lead to ongoing issues with joints and muscles.
Cats that have had their claws removed can be at greater risk of harm outside the home. They no longer have one of their main methods of defense. They can, however, still climb trees and hunt small prey but they're less effective at doing so. In addition, if they've had a tendonectomy instead of having their claws removed, they will need frequent monitoring to make sure that the claws don't grow into their feet.
Declawing Cats Alternatives
Many North American veterinarians don't support the declawing of cats and would prefer to see pet parents look at alternatives. Regular nail clipping can keep the claws shorter and less likely to cause serious injury or damage to soft furniture. If you provide your cat with appropriate places to scratch, it can distract them from scratching your couch. Give your puss a scratching post and rub catnip on it to make it more appealing to them. Barrier methods can also work – keep your cat away from your prized furnishings or cover them with a less appealing fabric. Other types of environmental enrichment involve providing opportunities for your cat to hunt such as offering lasers or feathers to chase. Food-dispensing toys will keep them mentally busy and alleviate boredom that can lead to scratching.
Declawing surgery is no small matter and can have long-term effects on cats. Ideally, it should be kept for those pet parents who are at the end of their tether because of their cat's scratching behavior, and only considered when all other alternatives have been tried.