Outlaw The Declawing Of Cats
Outlaw The Declawing Of Cats
Recent studies show that declawing can significantly increase the risk of long-term adverse effects on feline physical and emotional health, including chronic neuropathic pain, biting, and an increased likelihood of house-soiling. Here’s what you should know if you’re considering this procedure for your cat.
Declawing is an emotional, controversial, and divisive topic. Some people consider it an option to prevent destructive damage in the home and protection from potential scratches. Others consider the elective procedure inhumane, unethical mutilation that should be performed only to treat true medical conditions, such as nail bed cancer.
Pain and adverse behavior
The term “declaw” may sound straightforward, yet it misrepresents the extent of the surgical procedure.
“Declawing is also known as onychectomy or partial digital amputation,” says Margie Scherk, DVM, DABVP. “The surgery is actually amputation of the cat’s third toe or finger bone. Cats’ nails are different than those of humans in that they are actually part of the bone. A comparison in human terms would be cutting off a person’s finger at the last joint of each finger.”
Whether by scalpel, laser, or guillotine method, the procedure isn’t without risk or complications, nor is it pain free, Dr. Scherk says. Studies show declawed cats often experience pain from remaining bone fragments; nail regrowth; reluctance to move or play; lameness; and chronic pain. All of those factors result in the following negative effects:
Reduced quality of life from chronic pain.
Significantly higher odds of back pain due to change in gait kinetics.
Greater likelihood of excessive grooming and fur chewing (barbering).
Greater likelihood of aggression than non-declawed cats; that aggression is appreciably higher in declawed cats with bone remnants.
“Being in chronic pain understandably results in less positive interactions and lower acceptance of handling for some individuals,” Dr. Scherk says.
In one study, 63 percent of declawed cats had residual bone fragments, and those cats were 10 times more likely to eliminate outside the litter box.
“Whether that is because the litter hurts the hidden damaged nerves or for other reasons isn’t known,” says Dr. Scherk. “We do know, at the very least, that cats experience pain directly where the nerves were severed.”
Currently, 39 countries have enacted legislation prohibiting medically unnecessary declawing. In January 2019, Labrador and Newfoundland join two other Canadian provinces, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, in banning declawing. In the U.S., it is illegal in eight cities in California and in Denver, Colorado, New York.
Cats also need their claws for the following purposes:
Hunting: Cats are natural hunters. Their retractable claws provide them with traction while running and help them catch and hold onto their prey. If you watch the way your cat plays with its toys, you can see that while your indoor cat doesn’t need to hunt for its next meal, the practice of hunting and chasing is still an instinctual part of your cat’s behaviour.
Stretching: Being able to grip items, like your carpet, allows your cat to twist and stretch the full length of its body, which is not only a good form of exercise, but it’s also a great source of enjoyment for your cat.
Climbing: A cat’s claws are curved to help climb up trees and other surfaces to get to safety. For indoor cats, their claws allow them to grip items such as cat trees or furniture, so they don’t fall or slip.
Leaving their scent: When cats scratch an item, they leave behind a special scent produced from glands on their paws. This allows a cat to leave its signature behind as a message to other cats.
Protecting themselves: A cat’s claws act as a method of self-defence when faced with a predator. While indoor cats have little need to defend themselves, their claws still offer the security of knowing they have a form of protection. Cats also use their claws to communicate certain messages, for example swatting to communicate the need for distance.
Balance: When a cat is declawed, it’s not at all like clipping nails. Declawing is amputating the claw and related bone and muscle tissue. Without their claws, cats often have trouble balancing
Please help us end the barbaric declawing of cats. Outlaw the torture, in Pennsylvania.