What does it mean to declaw your cat?
Also known as an onychectomy, declawing is the actual amputation of your cat’s bones, tendons and ligaments. What is amputated is the distal phalanx which is essentially the first bones, or toes, on your cat’s paw and which contains the nail.
Why do people choose to declaw their cats?
- Kitty is scratching the couch, rug, bed or other home furnishings.
- There are small children in the home that could get scratched
- Kitty scratched the dog
- The cat parent is immune compromised and can’t risk coming into contact with the bacteria that might be under a cat’s nails should they be scratched.
- If that cat has a tumor or tumors in their nailbed a veterinarian may recommend declawing.
How is a cat declawed?
Although the end results are the same in regards to how declawing may ultimately affect your cat, there are two methods commonly used in the declawing procedure:
- Using a scalpel or guillotine type clipper to amputate the distal phalanx (toe). The wounds are then stitched up or special glue is used to seal the wound.
- Laser removal of the distal phalanx (toe). This method produces the less blood
As with any surgery, declawing does carry with it some risks. As with any time your cat is under anesthesia there is the risk your pet may have a negative reaction to it or even die. Moreover, infection, nerve damage and necrosis can occur. Also, declawing will affect how your cat’s foot meets the ground which can result in back pain and other musculoskeletal issues for your cat. Some cat owners have even claimed that declawing their pet had a negative effect on their cat’s personality.
A cat’s claws may be the only thing they have to protect themselves should they accidentally get out of the house (declawing an outdoor cat should not even be a consideration). Also, clawing for a cat is a normal part of who they are as felines. Lastly, declawing has been outlawed in many countries due in part because it does not provide any medical benefits to your cat and it is seen as cruel. If declawing is something you are thinking about for your cat, why not consider the following safer, more humane options…
- Trimming your cat’s nails (click here to see how to trim dog or cat’s nails safely)
- Nail caps – attached with safe glue, nail caps can stay on for 4-6 weeks and come in a variety of fun colors.
- Behavior modification – redirecting your cat to a scratching post or scratching board, which can be purchased at your local pet supply store. This takes time and patience but is highly effective.