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Declawing?

I know this is a controversial topic and I don't want to start an argument, but I was wondering what everyone thinks about getting their cats declawed. Our local shelter won't let anyone adopt a cat and get it declawed. They even have a disclaimer that gives them the right to sue if you do. I have a small daughter so both of our cats don't have front claws. Even when I trimmed our kitten's claws he would still scratch up our daughter and destroyed our couch. Our landlords' contract also states that if we have cats the front claws have to be gone. I feel bad about giving them the cosmetic surgery, but I would feel worse if they didn't have a good home where they were fed and cleaned regularly. We left the back claws, and my hubby woke up recently when one of our cats landed on his head and scratched it open! They're kinda clumsy babies. So, what do you guys think?
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33 Comments Post a Comment
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541150_tn?1306037443
My cats are declawed, only the front. Some say it is cruel and if you can't train a cat to be gentle with their claws then don't have any; but like you said it is best for them to have a home. There are too many cats in need of good homes.

Gosh I hope this doesn't bring any arguments.
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I don't agree with declawing because it is so painful and limiting for the cats....HOWEVER, I have HAD to declaw 2 of my cats..both for reasons of protection of a very sick older cat  I had in my home at that time.
I talked to my Vet and I agreed with him that it was much better to do this than to have to take a cat back to a shelter, like he told me ..whats the best alternative for the cat??
As long as they remain INDOORS...please everyone never let a declawed kitty outside on their own, they have absolutely no protection from other animals.
Also please never declaw the back, there isn't any good reason to ever consider this, and I know here in Canada Vets won't even consider it.
It is a very controversial subject and like any other decision we need to weigh all the pros and cons and make a decision based on what is right for them and for us too.
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Claws are a functional and essential body part for a cat, so declawing is more than just cosmetic surgery.  It not only affects their physical movement and capabilities, but typically affects behavior as well. Cats with disabilities (and a lack of claws is a disability) tend to behave differently around other animals (even indoors) because of it.  They may be timid, fearful, and anti-social, even though their outward behavior may be defensively aggressive, in order to try to compensate for their disability.  

I've owned dozens of cats and fostered many more.  Not one of them ever destroyed furniture as long as they were shown an acceptable alternative (a scratching post) and none of them ever scratched people except in self defense.    

Cats are really no different from people and dogs.  They need to be trained in acceptable behavior. That requires patience and consistency, whether that is staying off the kitchen counters or not scratching the furniture.    
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376739_tn?1317669990
Every veterinary EXPERT I've spoken with about this topic says it hardly affects the cat. It doesn't cause them to lose their balance or move any different. If a cat is indoors I'm for declawing. I think it would do more harm for an outdoor cat to be declawed as they would need some line of defense.

There is supposed to be a new surgical method that is supposed to be less painful for recovery but it is very costly as it is a laser surgery.

That being said we have two cats and they both are *not* declawed. However I'm not opposed to getting it done if they were to turn those claws on my children. I'm all for providing a loving, caring home for my pets but they my CHILDREN come first. In the meantime we are teaching them what is acceptable and what is not (we're using a water bottle and special warning noises that we make that sound similar to hissing). I think declawing should be a last resort if you are unable to train your cat(s) to express themselves appropriately.
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Declawing is an amputation that is eqivalent to a human having all of their toes amputated.  There is some very detailed expert information at http://www.pawproject.com/html/faqs.asp
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We are all adults and I think we've all done research on the topic. We've been over this before.

All the vets I've been to are caring and good. And they all agree that declawing doesn't really affect a cat's mental or physical health. I am seeing it in my own cats. Really..it only took them 48 hours to fully recover from surgery. After that they were jumping, playing, eating and loving on their catnip.

I don't go out and advice people to declaw their pets. But MY pets will get declawed...every single one of them.....no matter where I get them from......as long as they are under 6 months in age. I'm with Joy.

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Here we go again! We always seem to have a heated argument on declawing on this forum at least every few months or more.

I've talked to many vets on this subject as well. Cats can adapt very well to being declawed and I've always had my cats declawed from the time I was a kid and my mom did to when I was an adult and had my own cats. They've all been healthy, loving cats who have no problems jumping on and down off of high places, catching moths in their paws ( I just watched Sakura do this last night! She literally caught the moth in midair in her paws! I was impressed!)
However, I do not recommend cats be declawed in the back ( had a vet recommend this as well) because just in case they ever get out they'd need those back claws to defend themselves (they can lay on their backs and do some pretty good damage with those back claws) or in case they need to climb a tree, and yes, they still can climb a tree just with back claws.

It's a personal decision but I don't want to see you beat up if you do decide to declaw. I truly hope this thread does not turn hateful as I've seen that happen time and time again with this subject.
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I don't see this turning into an argument. I think we are all having a decent, adult conversation.  I'm actually pretty impressed by it. We are each entitled to our own opinions and can raise our babies however we like! I think there are valid reasons to both points of view. It's interesting to hear them. I have family members who have given many a homeless kitty a home, but have to declaw front and back because they own VERY expensive oriental rugs. The cats have a great home, live long lives and love their owners. Frankly, I don't see a problem with it.

Having pets is similar to having children. When someone comes up to me and tells me that I'm raising my daughter wrong or they disagree with my decision (unless it's my hubby or sister), I get offended and angry, But, I am always open to a discussion on child raising techniques and hearing about different ways that other parents have approached their kids. Forcing the issue never works unless it is over something that is obviously wrong according to the law.
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I only mentioned that because the last thread on declawing got very, very nasty and they had to delete it after awhile. We even had a vet on here who made a journal on it and people got nasty on that as well. I think he deleted the journal as well. I just didn't want to see it happen again, that's all. I'm probably a little sensitive to it anymore!

I can't believe your local shelter said they could sue if someone declaws one of the cats adopted there, wow. That's seems extreme and a little over the top, I think. I would think that could keep people from adopting cats. Would they rather they be put down because they have an over abundance of cats? Our shelter here has an over abundance of cats. They recently offered the cats for free on Father's Day to try to get some adopted out. I had never seen them do that before. For some reason, there's way more cats than dogs. I just wish I could adopt them all. :(
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541150_tn?1306037443
Diva,

Trust us....every time 'Declawing' comes up the thread turns into a big ol' mess. I am hoping this isn't the case. I don't like it when people tell me my cats are crippled. I hate it when people make comments on how this is all for the owner's benefit and the poor cats get affected and blah blah blah. You know why? Because we love our pets very, very much. My cats mean the world to me. Declawing them doesn't make me a bad mom. And it does hurt me when people post comments on how cruel and bad it is for the cat .....because it isn't true.

The day I had them declawed I made a commitment to keep them safe indoors and give them the best life possible. When they do get out (to the yard) we are always there, next to them, walking with them, protecting them.  They climb trees, catch lizards and bugs, and run like maniacs. My cats aren't disabled.
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Swampy thinks we should have the discussion, and present the arguments as well as we can. Someone who has never heard of medhelp, who just found the discussion though a search engine, will benefit from a discussion.

Swampy's own experience is that every cat he has owned had claws. Even when he had just emerged from the mud (as a small child critter),  if he handled a cat improperly he would get a big old scratch. Blood and pain taught him the finer points of how to treat a cat.

It was fine, Swampy, and the cats, both survived.

So Swampy really doesn't see a need to declaw.
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I think whether to declaw a cat is the owner's decision. Our cats are all front declawed because the first one was already declawed when we adopted her at 7 years old. They are all indoor cats. I would not describe any of them as disabled. Except for the 13 year old fatcat, they can all jump high and are very fast and always playing with one another. They are very friendly (always greeting strangers) and happy and do not seem to notice the missing claws. Sometimes they even seem too mobile, as they are always getting into things!  We had them declawed when they were spayed/neutered, so they did not have extra surgery. I would recommend not declawing both front and back, because they can still defend themselves with the back ones. Also, we had cats with claws when I was growing up and the cats clawed up sofas and doors, etc, and I imagine that my landlord would not appreciate that. So, it is up to you as to whether to declaw.
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Have any of you heard of soft paws? They are little things that you can glue to your cat's claws so they can't scratch anything. I know my blond tabby would definitely bite them off. He used to chew his tail and has pica. My other cat might be ok with them.
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1232362_tn?1333139006
I haven't heard of soft paws, but have joked my cat Bob must have pica because of his love of all things plastic: bags, window envelopes seem particularly tasty, etc. so we have to be super careful with those items. On the topic at hand-my ex had his cat declawed because h thought she was incorigible as far as furniture, but she seemed very upset when she ret'd from the vet. I did feel terrible for her but she seemed to recover and still performed the scratching activity, just clawless-I think they have to do that instinctually, I believe I read somewhere they have scent glands in the fr paws. Oh-also would NEVER  do to outdoor cat as they need them to climb to safety or for defense.
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Cats and leather furniture do not mix.  We had scratching posts and toys galore in the house for our kittens.  I should say kittens and leather furniture don't mix.  They run and play and scampering across the leather scratches it terribly. Older cats are more respectful. It's impossible to expect kittens to stay off the furniture.
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You think cats claw at furniture...you should see what pet squirrels do! But that is a different forum...
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242912_tn?1402547092
Speaking of clawing the furniture - claws and Water Beds do not mix! :)
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1006035_tn?1391310794
My cats will eat bags, strings, plastic, floss threaders, etc. We have to cover our garbage because they will get in it and eat weird things. They puke it up or it comes out in their poo. I wish they would just stick with normal food!

When our blond kitty was a kitten he clawed up the leather part of our couch. His claws were like needles, so when he was sleeping I would go clip them. They grow so fast though! I'd have a hard time doing that regularly.
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203342_tn?1328740807
I think I found that out the hard way. When we got Sakura as a kitten she made a lot of little pin holes in our fairly new leather easy chair (grr).

My other cat likes to chew on plastic bags too. As soon as I get home from the grocery store and put down the bags, she starts munching away. Lol, crazy cat!
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1232362_tn?1333139006
I think I remember a product that files the nails instead of cutting them so they're smooth on the ends. Has anyone tried that? I don't think my cats would like it but there's a cat in the commercial. One of my cats prefers the bite 'n chew nail maintenance method-his are all raggedy on the ends. (this is also the plastic chewer cat)
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LOL, Spirit!!  "bite and chew nail maintenance method"  Jade uses that method also...
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389974_tn?1331018842
One of Swampy's worst problems is to keep the cat from clawing the electric blanket.
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No, not good, Swampy.  You know, I have a friend who'd never even Heard of an electric blanket????  I couldn't live without mine.
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203342_tn?1328740807
Both my cats bite and pull their back claws, drives me nuts!
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506791_tn?1350343103
Good evening;

I have never had one of my cats declawed, neither has my wife (nor has any family on either side).  We're tolerant of scratches in our skin and the upholstery...also, our kitties have always had (supervised) access outdoors (with some family cats being Indoor/outdoor beasties).

However, I understand that some folks see that a need exists to have the surgery performed, like docking tails and cropping ears in dogs.

I have friends who have had declawed cats, all seemed perfectly well adjusted.

The funniest was Harry S Truman, a shy Himalayan that our friend Tom owned.  Once in awhile Harry would get a "hair across..." and think he was a tiger.  I could have had some deep scratches if he had been "intact" in the weaponry department.  Luckily, with the set of fangs he had, Harry never bit.

No harm, no foul as far as I am concerned.

Love them little furry critters and they'll love you back.

Take care - Pip
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I love, love Pip's post!!!
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1303813_tn?1303162962
Can I ask a question, Why is it bad to de claw your cats apart from the fact they cant defend themselves outside??
I'm not being mean I just simply dont understand is all!


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Written by Veterinarian, Dr. Christianne Schelling
If you are considering declawing your cat, please read this. It will only take a moment, and it will give you valuable information to help you in your decision.

First, you should know that declawing is pretty much an American thing, it's something people do for their own convenience without realizing what actually happens to their beloved cat. In England declawing is termed "inhumane" and "unnecessary mutilation." I agree. In many European countries it is illegal. I applaud their attitude.

Before you make the decision to declaw your cat, there are some important facts you should know. Declawing is not like a manicure. It is serious surgery. Your cat's claw is not a toenail. It is actually closely adhered to the bone. So closely adhered that to remove the claw, the last bone of your the cat's claw has to be removed. Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat's "toes". When you envision that, it becomes clear why declawing is not a humane act. It is a painful surgery, with a painful recovery period. And remember that during the time of recuperation from the surgery your cat would still have to use its feet to walk, jump, and scratch in its litter box regardless of the pain it is experiencing. Wheelchairs and bedpans are not an option for a cat.

No cat lover would doubt that cats--whose senses are much keener than ours--suffer pain. They may, however, hide it better. Not only are they proud, they instinctively know that they are at risk when in a weakened position, and by nature will attempt to hide it. But make no mistake. This is not a surgery to be taken lightly.

Your cat's body is perfectly designed to give it the grace, agility and beauty that is unique to felines. Its claws are an important part of this design. Amputating the important part of their anatomy that contains the claws drastically alters the conformation of their feet. The cat is also deprived of its primary means of defense, leaving it prey to predators if it ever escapes to the outdoors.

I have also had people tell me that their cat's personality changed after being declawed. Although, the medical community does not recognize this as potential side effect.

Okay, so now you realize that declawing is too drastic a solution, but you're still concerned about keeping your household furnishings intact. Is there an acceptable solution? Happily, the answer is yes. A big, joyful, humane YES! Actually there are several. The following website "Cat Scratching Solutions" provides many solutions as well as and insight into the psychology of why cats scratch. You can teach your cat to use a scratching post (sisal posts are by far the best). You can trim the front claws. You can also employ aversion methods. One of the best solutions I've found is Soft Paws®.

Soft Paws are lightweight vinyl nail caps that you glue on the cat's front claws. They're great for households with small children and are extremely useful for people who are away from home all day and can't exercise the watchfulness necessary to train a cat to use a scratching post. Soft Paws® are easy to apply and last about four to six weeks. They come in clear or colors--which are really fun. Now that's a kitty manicure! The colored caps look spiffy on Tabby or Tom and have the added advantage of being more visible when one finally comes off. Then you simply replace it. You can find Soft Paws® on the web by clicking here or call 1-800-989-2542.

You need to remember, though, that the caps and nail trimming should only be used on indoor cats who will not be vunerable to the dangers of the outdoors.

For a list of countries in which declawing is either illegal, or considered extremely inhumane and only performed only under extreme circumstances, or for medical reasons, CLICK HERE.

Not yet convinced? Click Here for "The Truth about Declawing - Technical Facts."

Questions or Comments? Like to add to this website? Please feel free to e-mail me.

Dr. Christianne Schelling   Copyright 1998 - 2010    All Rights Reserved

Complications
Declawing is not without complication. The rate of complication is relatively high compared with other so-called routine procedures. Complications of this amputation can be excruciating pain, damage to the radial nerve, hemorrhage, bone chips that prevent healing, painful regrowth of deformed claw inside of the paw which is not visible to the eye, and chronic back and joint pain as shoulder, leg and back muscles weaken.

Other complications include postoperative hemorrhage, either immediate or following bandage removal is a fairly frequent occurrence, paw ischemia, lameness due to wound infection or footpad laceration, exposure necrosis of the second phalanx, and abscess associated with retention of portions of the third phalanx. Abscess due to regrowth must be treated by surgical removal of the remnant of the third phalanx and wound debridement. During amputation of the distal phalanx, the bone may shatter and cause what is called a sequestrum, which serves as a focus for infection, causing continuous drainage from the toe. This necessitates a second anesthesia and surgery. Abnormal growth of severed nerve ends can also occur, causing long-term, painful sensations in the toes. Infection will occasionally occur when all precautions have been taken.

Psychological & Behavioral Complications
Some cats are so shocked by declawing that their personalities change. Cats who were lively and friendly have become withdrawn and introverted after being declawed. Others, deprived of their primary means of defense, become nervous, fearful, and/or aggressive, often resorting to their only remaining means of defense, their teeth. In some cases, when declawed cats use the litterbox after surgery, their feet are so tender they associate their new pain with the box...permanently, resulting in a life-long adversion to using the litter box. Other declawed cats that can no longer mark with their claws, they mark with urine instead resulting in inappropriate elimination problems, which in many cases, results in relinquishment of the cats to shelters and ultimately euthanasia. Many of the cats surrendered to shelters are surrendered because of  behavioral problems which developed after the cats were declawed.  

Many declawed cats become so traumatized by this painful mutilation that they end up spending their maladjusted lives perched on top of doors and refrigerators, out of reach of real and imaginary predators against whom they no longer have any adequate defense.
A cat relies on its claws as its primary means of defense. Removing the claws makes a cat feel defenseless. The constant state of stress caused by a feeling of defenselessness may make some declawed cats more prone to disease.  Stress leads to a myriad of physical and psychological disorders including supression of  the immune system, cystitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)..

"The consequences of declawing are often pathetic. Changes in behavior can occur. A declawed cat frequently resorts to biting when confronted with even minor threats. Biting becomes an overcompensation for the insecurity of having no claws. Bungled surgery can result in the regrowth of deformed claws or in an infection leading to gangrene. Balance is affected by the inability to grasp with their claws. Chronic physical ailments such as cystitis or skin disorders can be manifestations of a declawed cat's frustration and stress" David E. Hammett, DVM

"The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights is opposed to cosmetic surgeries and to those performed to correct 'vices.' Declawing generally is unacceptable because the suffering and disfigurement it causes is not offset by any benefits to the cat. Declawing is done strictly to provide convenience for people. The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR)
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Meant to add that everything in my previous post was cut and pasted from http://www.declawing.com/
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I was so scared to have my Rastus declawed because of all the warnings on the web; talked with my vet. and he told me if there was no other alternative then it would be fine.  We tried everything to get him to stop scratching our furniture, etc., and nothing worked.  We got him declawed and neutered at the same time...he hardly knew it happened.  He was jumping off my bed minutes after he came home.  He healed without incident and can manipulate his front paws to do anything he wants to.  If he's clumsy, I haven't noticed.  He hangs out on top of the bookcase, in window sills and all around the house.  My furniture is safe and he's a happy cat.  I wouldn't change my decision for the world -- just got a new kitten (my grandson wanted him to stay with us so he could be inside) and little Oscar will be declawed as soon as he is old enough.  Please do not be too tough on folks who do this -- they do not do it for the thrills or lightly, they do after careful consideration and only as a last resort.  It's much better than them living outside and dying in a cat fight or killed by a neighbor's dog.
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203342_tn?1328740807
Never had a problem with any of my cats either, no personality change, nothing.
Animals do much better with surgeries than humans, by the way. The worst problem I've had is my cats wanting to jump up on things right after surgery! It's hard to keep them still long enough to make sure they've  healed.
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In the UK declawing is illegal and it's never been something we've ever needed to think about. No-one here naturally thinks "I wish I could take my cats claws off, let me ask the vet to see about it", it just never happens. I've never in my life thought of it and I've always had cats. It hasn't been a problem at all having cats in and out of the house, they do not ruin my furniture or scratch me all the time. I trim their claws because one is very lazy about grooming and also because it helps stop mistaken scratching (when a cat's claws might be too long and they jump on your lap, it might give you a tiny scratch). It simply has never been a problem for me. If I cared about my furniture more than my pets I hope someone would have a good mind to take them to the shelter and give them better homes. I don't wish to be mean but seriously, giving a cat a home doesn't just mean putting a roof over it's head and feeding it- it means treating it like a member of your family. You wouldn't amputate your children's fingers so they couldn't mess up your furniture or paint on your walls, why would you do this to a cat? You are permanently altering their natural state just for your own ease of living and keeping a tidy home. If they poop in the house, hell why not get them a colostomy bag? As for scratching children and people being concerned about that- well, I was brought up with cats and I've never been hurt (maybe little scratch) and I don't know anyone who'd be so concerned about a cat going near their kids in case they got scratched, it's a very mild concern if that. I honestly don't understand why it's such a big deal for people. As for indoor cats, I hope cats who have access to safe outdoor surroundings are let out as that's another thing I can't advocate. I guess it's simply how you were raised and a culture thing- in the UK, cats go out and have claws. Yes, they get hit by cars and sometimes scratch your sofa but the majority are fine. I guess we see it different over here.

My cat recently ripped her claw out and the pain she went through made me even more sad to think this is purposely done to animals, under anaesthetic or not, as they will no doubt be very very very uncomfortable when they do come round and it all kicks in. The only way I could justify it is for medical reasons or in very extreme cases where a cat is hurting itself or others on a regular basis and all else has failed.

Oh and if the above mentioned vets were right about declawing being perfectly fine, why is it illegal in most countries?
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Heya it's because it removes the top part of their actual toe, the same as amputating the tip of your finger above the upper joint (not your knuckle, but the next bendy part lol). Sorry, best way I can describe it! It effectively provides them with a disability- they use their claws for playing, pouncing and naturally retract and extend them. It would feel very unnatural for them not to be able to do this and they would probably feel pretty threatened too. A cat will only scratch you if you are doing something wrong- usually provoking it without knowing or approaching a scared cat. It won't just lash out point blank because it feels like it (in the vast majority of cases, anyway!). So it's an altogether pretty unnecessary procedure aimed largely at vanity and protecting furniture. I don't believe in surgically altering your pets for your own convenience and I am even careful about spaying or neutering my cats, this is another example of altering a pet to make it fit your lifestyle and it can and should be avoided, in my opinion.
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