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To Declaw or Not To Declaw - Is There Really A Question?

Aug 17, 2007
Cats are born with claws, the same way that humans are born with fingernails and toe nails. Cats need claws in order to mark or scratch a specific place or territory that they have been in. Humans need finger nails to, scratch themselves or others, or for opening a letter envelope. Cats basically stretch their agile bodies in order to prepare their muscles when they dig their claws deeply into wood perhaps or a tree, and then they pull back from their hold. Scratching is a basic physiological need of cats.

So do cats need to be declawed? If cat owners truly care for the welfare of their cats, they would have to think twice on declawing their cats.

Declawing, what is it?

Declawing is done by taking away all the front claws of a cat. In a way this procedure is equal to the amputation of all the finger tips of a human being. For cats this surgery is painful and, for someone who is walking on all fours, terribly unnecessary.

Though the recovery of declawed cats may only take a few weeks or so, its physical and/or psychological effects could last a cat's lifetime.

The following are the possible results once a cat has been declawed.

Ouch, ouch and ouch

Immediately after surgery, declawed cats suffer severe pain, though it is quite impossible to gauge how much pain they are experiencing. Declawed cats could be considered as amputees. Cats usually try to go on with their cat lives even with pain unless the pain eventually becomes unbearable. Although they may look and act normal does not mean they are free from aches.

Complications after the surgery

After the surgery, declawed cats usually experience one of the following post-surgery effects: presence of abscess, feelings of lameness, claw re-growth. Based on studies performed on declawed cats, it has been found that twenty five percent of them develop various complications. The same result has been found on cats who went under tenectomy. This is also a form of surgery that is currently being offered as an alternative to declawing. It is called this because only the tendons extended on the toes are the ones amputated.

Stiffness of the joints

Cats that are declawed experience stiffness of the joints since the tendons that manipulate the toes retract because of the surgery. As time goes by, these same joints freeze and ultimately they will no longer be able to extend their toes.

It has been thought though that cats really do not miss their claws since they also 'scratch' continually even if they no longer have anything to scratch with. However, this act is really the cats' way to stretch those frozen joints.


Believe it or not, research shows that declawed cats immediately shift the weight of their bodies to the back and onto the larger pad in the front of their feet, away from their toes. The result is still evident despite giving these cats strong anti-pain relievers. If such an effect continues after declawing, the cat will ultimately stress its own joints in the leg, its spine and eventually suffer from arthritis.

Cats who cannot claw, bite

Since the natural instinct of cats is to claw especially when threatened or scared, in the absence of claws cats are forced to resort to another form of defense, that is, their teeth. Declawed cats that are aggressive naturally are more prone to biting.

Declawed cats have no nine lives!

There is a serious risk of death for cats that are declawed. Death could be brought on by the anesthesia they received, or any complications in surgery or hemorrhage.

Declawed cats that resort to biting run the risk of being abandoned by their owners. These cats could then be put in a shelter, and since they turn to biting, the probability of being adopted becomes slim. Usually un-adoptable cats are put to sleep or they are used to train dogs to fight usually as bait.

In summary, cats are extremely and highly trainable to be taught to use a post for scratching instead of common household furniture, rugs or curtains. Though declawing cats is one of the options a cat owner can take, it is basically an unkind and a very animal-unfriendly thing to do. It all depends on the cat owner whether Kitty is more (or less than) valuable than that expensive Italian rug. The choice is theirs.
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