To Declaw Or Not Declaw? That Is The Question...
Many people have different opinions about whether or not to declaw their cat and some are unaware of other options.
A question I am often asked by clients who own cats or are considering adopting a cat is how I feel about declawing. Many think that it is inhumane or unnatural because the surgery actually involves removing the bone of the toe that the claws grow out of. To most, the thought of someone doing something like that to a person is unimaginable and they cannot bear the thought of doing such a horrible thing to their precious kitty.
I will admit, it is not my favorite surgery to do and I will not do a four-foot declaw. But if it is the difference between a cat having a home or being abandoned, taken to a shelter or euthanized, then I'm all for it. I do not recommend declawing cats that live outdoors because then they are not able to defend themselves or get away from dogs, other cats, wild animals or even humans that may try to harm them.
Veterinary medicine, like all aspects of medicine, has evolved greatly and is continuing to improve, and there are procedures and methods that we now use to ensure that declawing is much more comfortable and less traumatic for the pets.
Some of these methods are blocking the nerves near and around the paws prior to the surgery and also using a laser to remove the claw bone so that the pets recover faster and there is less post surgical bleeding and pain. All cats that have this procedure done are sent home with pain medications.
For people who are absolutely adamant against declawing, there are other alternatives:
Soft Paws- vinyl caps you glue to your cat's claws that protect against scratching. They are easy to apply, safe and non-toxic, last about 4-6 weeks, come in kitten, small, medium and large cat sizes and are reasonably priced.
Flexor Tendonectomy- a surgical procedure that involves cutting the tendon that allows cats to extend their claws. If this is something that you are considering, you must be willing to monitor your cat's nails carefully and keep them clipped because your cat will no longer be able to use scratching posts or shed their nails and as a result, their nails can get extremely long and even grow into the pads.
Regular nail trimming- your veterinarian or a veterinary technician can show you the best way to do this so that it can be performed correctly and routinely.
Use of a scratching post- This may or may not help because some cats do not use this as often as others.
The choice about whether or not to declaw your cat is a personal one. It is a good idea to consult with your veterinarian and consider all your options before making a decision that will affect your cute, cuddly kitty forever.