Why You Should Not Declaw Your Cat
Playful scratches are a common occurrence when you have a cat around your home, right? Sure, sometimes, it can be painful and annoying, but it is often harmless play. However, if this has made you consider declawing your cat, then we are here to tell you why you should not declaw your cat. Why? Because we are cat lovers, just like you, and we want the best for you and your feline buddy.
Declawing surgery is not as simple as it sounds; there are many risks for your cat - direct and indirect. We at Panther Armor share a common mission, "Do Not Declaw Cats," with animal welfare organizations like PETA, Humane Society of the United States and ASPCA.
In rare cases, declawing is necessary for nail bed tumors, distal phalanx gangrene, and inflammatory tissues. But putting your cat through this surgery so that they stop scratching, when you can resolve it with the cat scratching tape? Please don't be irrational. This article will discuss reasons not to declaw your cat and provide alternative solutions to your woes.
What Exactly is Declawing?
In veterinary medical terms, a declawing operation is called Onychectomy. In this procedure, the end bones of an animal's toes are amputated. Surgical amputation of the bones is necessary because the animal's claws develop from them.
Several animals like cats and dogs undergo declawing, despite it being illegal in various American cities. Today, around 20-25% of pet cats in the U.S. are declawed. Frequent nail trims and nail caps can help train and manage pets better, and avoid scratching.
Why do Cats Need Their Claws?
Sounds a little silly to ask such a question, right? However, this section is vital to understand the significance behind our mission, "Do Not Declaw Your Cat."
Self-Protection: Pretty obvious, isn't it? Cats that play fight with their siblings, mother and their human buddy are more prepared to protect themselves when in harm. Yes, cats use their claws to play fight and protection.
Territory Marking: Along with rubbing their bodies against your legs, cats also scratch furniture and their favorite spots in the house to mark their territory. With the cat tape for furniture you can avoid that really easy
For Balance: Just like humans have fluid in their inner ear for balance, cats have claws helping them with balance and posture.
Reasons Not to Declaw Cats
Surgical & Post-surgical Effects:
A declawing surgery can present various surgical drawbacks. If performed imperfectly, the claws may grow inside the toes or push into a cat's footpad. Some post-surgical studies observed that inferior quality declawing surgeries could leave bone fragments at the incision. This can cause excessive pain to cats and uncontrolled biting or aggression at their toe.
Various veterinary studies by Jankowski 1998, Martinez 1993, Pollari 1996, Tobias 1994, and Yeon 2001 reported varying postoperative complication rates in the range of 50% to 80%. Another study at a veterinary studies institute and hospital claimed that at least one out five cats faced complications after hospital release. Some complications are:
- Paw pad laceration
- Transient motor paralysis
- Radial Nerve Damage
- Infection or abscess
- Tissue necrosis
- Splitting open of wounds
- Growth of deformed claw segments
- Bladder inflammation due to stress
Does this sound convincing enough on why you should never declaw a cat?
If it isn't already obvious, declawing surgery can be harrowing for cats. Yes, they do receive anesthesia before surgery, but cats can feel pronounced postoperative pain, even with pain killers, like humans. Adding to that, inefficient anesthesia administration can cause various unwanted effects.
Short-term neuropathic pain can include symptoms like obsessive biting at the incision site, aggressive licking at the wound, increased body tension, and reluctance to put pressure on the limbs. In the longer run, apart from behavioral problems, cats also experience phantom pain and self-mutilation.
Complete healing of the wound depends on various factors like the cat's species, the extent of surgery, postoperative medications, the immune response by the cat's body, and how well the cat handles its fresh wounds.
Regardless, the pain caused by declawing surgery should be enough for anyone to grasp why you should not declaw cats.
Dr. Nicole Martell-Moran, DVM, a feline pain management specialist, conducted a statistical study to understand the impact of declawing on cats, the pain involved and resulting behavioral changes. Dr. Moran has published well-researched papers in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery and the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
In the study, 137 declawed and 137 non-declawed cats were observed for behavioral changes. Medical data and history of the previous 2 years were reviewed by the individuals responsible for the study to document behavior like aggressive behavior, biting, and urination in the house.
The study made the following observations:
- There was an increase in back pain for cats, resulting from bone fragment retention in the third phalanx.
- Declawed cats are more prone to biting with minimal provocation and aggressive behavior. This can be because cats perceive a threat and only have their teeth for a defensive response.
- The study also observes that some cats had problems adhering to litter habits. Another survey from Yeon 2001, reiterated that around 15% of declawed cats were soiling and urinating in the house.
- Another observation involving declawed cats was an alteration in gait and balance. It is also called lameness in veterinary terms. Cats walk on their toes, and the removal of claw bones can impact their movement. Do this experiment, put thick socks over your cat's paws and observe how it walks. Your cat will initially be confused, abnormally lifting its paws and walking with its eyes down at its feet.
Losing Primary Defense & Vulnerability
Did you know that cats rely on their claws for protection and warning signals? Yes, it is their primary defense mechanism against predators & competitors. Unlike dogs, who utilize their teeth, cats will swing their claws at you, saying, "Stay away from me."
Another reason why you should not declaw cats, because if your cat goes out of the house, it may be unable to defend itself from predators like bigger dogs, stray cats, or animal abusers.
Your argument would be, "But my cat always stays in," however, if your cat were ever to sneak out, it would be helpless without its claws. If you are like most cat parents, you know that these furballs like their independence. Many cat parents may even allow their cats to stroll out and come back in at pleasure. This point should definitely add to reasons to not declaw your cat.
What Can You Do Instead of Declawing Your Cat?
You might be wondering why do cats scratch? Don't worry; cats scratching your furniture, expensive rugs, couches and your arm doesn't mean they hold a grudge against humanity. Scratching is a natural behavior for felines. You can protect the couch for example with our Panther Armor couch cover for cats.
- Cats scratch to remove dead layers from their claws.
- As we mentioned earlier, cats like to mark their territory; they might do this by scratching their "spot" by leaving visual marks and scents.
- After waking up from a nap, cats stretch their claws and feet - it gives them that wake-up feeling. This is also why you should not declaw your cat because it may interfere with their biological routine. Anyway, back to the point, after waking up, cats use their claws for a good-ol' scratch. It helps them relax.
- Some studies observe that cats may scratch coarse surfaces to express their excitement or emotions when around their human buddy. Isn't that cute?
- Cats play fight with their siblings to sharpen their hunting instincts.
We get it; we have given you reasons not to declaw cats, now it is our role to provide you alternatives to declawing. We understand that cat scratches can be painful and even dangerous if you are prone to infections or allergies. At the same time protect our furniture from damage.
Trim the Kitty's Nails
Yes, it is that simple! Clipping your cat's nails can prevent extensive damage to your furniture, and at the same time, protect them from infections. How? Untrimmed and overgrown claws can grow into your cat's paw pads, leading to an infection, pain, and disturb gait.
If your kitty is troublesome and doesn't allow you to hold them for trimming, you can go through various trimming techniques for your cat online. On the other hand, you can take your little delinquent to pet care or pet grooming centers for a proper trim. People there are experts and utilize appropriate feline claw trimmers.
Feline Nail Caps
Investing in some good nail caps will help you while you work with your cat. Nail caps are hollow and made from vinyl or synthetic material; you can easily slip them onto your cat's claws using an adhesive provided with the kit. Don't worry, the nail caps and adhesives are non-toxic to your cat.
These materials last for 5-6 weeks and will come off themselves as your cat's claws grow. During this time, you can scratch-train your cat with appropriate accessories.
Provide Scratching Surfaces
Why not just give your cat what it wants? No, we are not saying that you should sacrifice your furniture and favorite rugs, but you can provide a suitable alternative.
Cats like to scratch in various angles and positions; it can be vertically or horizontally. Depending on such factors, you can provide your cat with scrap cardboard, sisal or coconut fiber ropes wound around broad surfaces, and old, unwanted furniture.
If you want something more convenient, get scratching posts and pads. Also called cat scratchers, these are made from various materials, feature attractive textures and styles. You can get one custom made as per your cat's needs.
However, scratchers will only work if you place them at suitable locations. Observe where your cat likes taking naps and place the scratchers at such locations accordingly. After your cat wakes up, it will stretch its body and look for something to scratch on; what better than this?
Utilize Odor to Your Advantage
Cats hate the citrus aroma of lemon. Prepare some lemon juice, mix it with some water and regularly spray the mixture on your furniture surface, which your cat prefers. Your cat will avoid going near such furniture.
On the other hand, you can spray a mixture of catnip oil & water on scratching posts & pads. You can also apply dried catnip to surfaces where you want your cats to scratch - It works like a charm.
Protect Your Furniture
If you prefer something innovative and smart, then apply our Panther Armor vinyl sheets or double-sided adhesive cat training tapes on your vulnerable furniture and other surfaces.
We at Panther Armor provide furniture protection adhesive in varying sizes. It is a transparent and non-toxic blend that protects your furniture and, at the same time, discourages your cat from further scratching.
Why do we at Panther Armor discourage declawing practices? Because we know how painful and pointless it can be for your cat. We like to reinforce our mission, "Do Not Declaw Cats," not by ranting but by providing feasible solutions, like the cat scratch deterrent tape, to your cat scratching problems.
After providing various reasons why you should not declaw your cat and backing them with suitable studies & observations, we hope you will make a sound decision that will spare your cat from a lot of pain. After all, you can train a healthy and curious cat better than a traumatized, aggressive and distrustful one.