Reasons Cats Should Not Be Declawed

Declawing cats, although commonly done, has a negative impact on the health and lifespan of a cat. The reasons not to declaw your cat greatly outweigh the benefits of declawing your cat.

Declawing cats is one of the most common elective procedures pet owners decide to have performed on their cat.

Declawing, as the name implies, involves the removal of the cat's claws. Usually this removal is done by amputating the cat's finger right above the base of the claw, or using a laser to surgically remove the claw. This practice is illegal in many countries, but remains legal in North America.

There are many reasons pet owners should think twice before electing to have their cat declawed.

Declawing is major surgery

Many people are under the impression that declawing is a simple procedure that causes the cat little to no pain. This is not true. Declawing is a major surgery and cats are anesthetized before the procedure, regardless of whether the claws are being removed via amputation or laser. Imagine having your own fingers and toes amputated just below your nail bed, but above the first knuckle.

Claws are essential to a cat's agility

Cats are very swift and agile creatures. The cat's claws play an active role in this agility. Cats walk on their tip-toes. When a cat is declawed, their ability to walk on their tip-toes without pain, diminishes. Even after the paws have healed, the cat may experience a great deal of pain when walking, or it may be uncomfortable to them.

Infection

Cats, unlike humans, simply cannot lay around while healing. They must get up and move. This can cause irritation, abrasion and collection of foreign matter in the paws. This foreign matter, such as litter from the cat's own litter box, could lead to an infection of the unhealed paws. If the cat's paws become infected, it could be painful, perhaps even fatal, for the cat.

Behavioral Problems

Many cats develop behavioral problems, such as biting and refusing to use the litter box, after being declawed. Once declawed, a cat cannot offer a quick scratch to warn others when it feels threatened, and therefore resorts to the next line of defense; biting. Cats may also have issues using the litter box, as using the box immediately following the procedure can be quite painful and some cats will associate the box with pain. This then causes the cat to opt for a softer area to relieve themselves, such as the carpet or piles of laundry.

Joints and Muscles

A cat's joints and muscles may suffer as the result of being declawed. The cat's claws play a key role in the ability of the cat to stretch and exercise their muscles. When scratching on a post, a cat is better able to stretch and extend their muscles, using their claws as anchors. Additionally, cats who are declawed have to re-learn how to walk, and may walk in an altered way that affects their knee and hip joints. This additional stress on the knees and hips could lead to joint pain and arthritis, even at a young age.

Defense

A cat needs their claws to defend themselves from others. This may not be a major issue for indoors-only cats, however, should your cat ever make it outside while declawed, they have little to no ability to defend themselves against predators. The majority of declawed cats are unable to climb trees to escape any potential threats. A declawed cat outdoors is essentially a walking target.