|Tip: Declawing is hard on a cat.|
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Stripe as a kitten
The Shocking Truth About Declawing Your Cat
Declawing a cat is a painful and life-changing procedure that can leave your pet with permanent emotional scars and extreme changes in behavior. While some cats come through the procedure with practically no problems, many are forever changed in ways most owners would never expect. Shelters and humane societies are often full of declawed cats that are no longer suitable pets, simply because the owners didn't want their furniture scratched.
When Stripe came into our lives, he was a cute little kitten, a wiggling ball of fur that loved being petted and played with. He quickly grew into a rather large tom cat and soon became a bit aggressive. The logical next step was to get him neutered. It wasn't long before his demeanor changed to a more laid back kitty who enjoyed playing again. However, his incessant scratching became a real problem and, like most cat owners, we assumed a simple declawing procedure would solve everything. But it was more than a year before Stripe recovered enough to be a good pet again.
A declawed cat is a changed cat, and he knows it. Claws are not just for scratching, not just for defense, and not a weapon.
Claws have many uses in a cat's life. Cats use their claws not only for hunting, if they have access to that kind of environment, but for climbing, balancing, grooming, scratching that itch, and for grasping when exercising their foot muscles.
A Declawed Cat often will become a Biter.
When claws are removed, the cat's life changes. Imagine the tips of your own fingers nipped off below the nail. What would you no longer be able to do? How would your life change? Many personal functions would no longer be doable. Perhaps the ability to write would be compromised. Or the ability to simply feel things with the very sensitive nerve endings that allow for fine touch. How easy would it be to tie shoe laces? Button a shirt? Scratch an itch?
For cats, these activities are altered:
Cats with no claws not only feel vulnerable, but they are unable to do some basic things they take for granted... just as we might. And because of these changes, they eventually learn to use their teeth more. If they feel threatened, they may lash out with teeth instead. Many families are astonished to find their loveable, playful pet has become a dangerous biter, and wind up surrendering the cat to a shelter, or simply having him euthanized. In fact, most shelters will do this, as such cats are usually difficult to place. Who wants to adopt a cat that bites?
The procedure for declawing is simply an amputation of the cat's toes. When Stripe lost his toes at the age of one year, he was already a very large cat. This affected his recovery in a profound way, taking more than a year before he was able to walk normally again. He never did return to eating normally, preferring to lie down on his bowl so he didn't have to stand there and lean over.
Needless to say, as his owners, we felt like we had let him down... and we had.
Poor Stripe suffered more than the other cats we'd had declawed through the years, partly because we waited until he was older, and partly because he was so large. His weight contributed to a slower healing process. We felt we had subjected him to enormous pain and suffering and vowed to never declaw another cat.
It has since become one of my many missions in life to protect cats from the inadvertent tortures humans often inflict on them, simply because we want to control our own environments. We need to give more thought to the feelings the cat has, too. They do not need to suffer in silence as we ignore their needs. There are many other ways to deal with a cat's need to scratch, without causing pain and a lifetime of agony.
We do recognize that there are exceptions, and that some situations may dictate the need to declaw. If an owner has a bleeding disorder, for example, it could be life-threatening to risk being scratched. However, if a declaw is performed, it is an owner's responsibility to protect the cat from harm and to treat her gently to prevent fear-biting reactions, for example.
If your cat is scratching everything in the house, consider these options: