Updated: May 2020. We’re passionately against declawing of cats and happy to announce the Paw Project, a nonprofit animal advocacy organization’s new 57 minute documentary, titled “The Paw Project,” is now available on Netflix. The dramatic film aims to educate the public about the harmful consequences of feline declawing. The Paw Project movie trailer can be viewed at http://www.pawprojectmovie.com/. For more information, please visit http://www.PawProject.org
Our Vet 101 guest post today is by veterinarian Dr. Sasha Gibbons.
Many people believe that declawing is a solution to undesirable behaviors. What people do not realize is that it is a serious surgical procedure with long-term implications. The claw is deeply embedded into the tip of the paw, and bone must be amputated to remove it. The equivalent for people is removal of the finger beyond the last joint. Cats are usually required to stay in the hospital for a minimum of 48 hours following the surgery. The reasoning is this is usually the minimum time for bleeding to subside. However, bone can take weeks to completely heal, causing pain and limping. In the meantime, cats need to retrain themselves to walk, and balance without having part of their toes
As declawed cats age, prolonged redistribution of weight onto areas of the paw that are not normally pressure-bearing can cause arthritis, and problems with balance, which can ultimately lead to litterbox aversion due to difficulty standing in the litter. Elimination outside the litterbox is one of the top reasons cats are put to sleep in this country, either by owners who are frustrated by the situation, or in shelters as these cats are deemed unfit for adoption. With these aspects in mind, many countries, and certain local jurisdictions have banned the procedure.
Instead of declawing, people should work on behavioral modification. Kittens’ paws should be handled regularly to get them used to having their paws touched. The younger people start trimming their cat’s nails, the better they will tolerate it as they age. If nail trimming cannot be done at home, many pet stores or veterinary offices offer low cost nail trims.
- To avoid scratching furniture, appropriate scratching material should be provided that should mimic what the cat is interested in (vertical or horizontal surface).
- Catnip can be added to the scratching posts as additional enticement.
- When an owner witnesses a cat, using the scratching post, the cat should be praised and given a treat so that the cat understands this was a desired behavior. On the other hand, cats should be deterred from furniture with use of textures or odors.
- If caught in the act of scratching, deflecting the unwanted behavior with play i.e. throwing a ball or using a wand toy can be used to discourage the behavior.
Owners that are concerned with aggression towards themselves or other animals should work with their veterinarian to determine the best way to harness these unwanted behaviors. Declawing is not a solution to aggression. In fact, often, it makes cats more aggressive as without their claws, cats often turn to biting, which can be more destructive.
With appropriate information on alternatives to declawing and knowledge regarding the truth about long term effects, hopefully more people will opt not to put their cats through this elective procedure.
Sasha Gibbons is a feline only practitioner at Just Cats Veterinary Hospital in Stamford, CT. She has been sought after for her feline expertise and is a regular contributor Cat Fancy magazine.
Banned or considered unethical in many countries worldwide, declaw surgery is commonly performed in the U.S. and Canada. Why? The estimates are low. The cost of declawing 4 paws can be @$300+
The following is a list of countries in which declawing cats is either illegal or considered extremely inhumane and only performed under extreme circumstances:
- New Zealand
- Northern Ireland
LET”S GET THE U.S. and CANADA ON THE LIST! Please share and cross post.