CSTAR Animal Care
CSTAR's Spay Our Strays Clinic
Declawing Reality And Alternatives
Declawing - Cat Skeleton
Many pet owners are interested in having their cats declawed. While many veterinarians still perform this procedure, BEWARE - there are often serious consequences.
Your cat's claws grow right out of his phalanges (equivalent to human fingers). More specifically, the claw grows out of the distal phalanx. Unlike our fingernails, which are only connected to flesh, a cat's claws are connected directly to the bone. And, the entire distal phalanx bone needs to be amputated in order to keep the claws from growing back again.
Declawing - Before And After
Declawing - Human Fingers
So, when a cat is declawed, the entire last "finger bone" starting at the last joint is amputated on each of the cat's ten front toes. This would be like someone cutting off the tips of all ten of a person's fingers at the top joint. And, cats actually walk on their fingertips. So after a cat is declawed, the cat is left to try to walk on what's left of his fingers.
In addition to the excruciating pain a cat experiences after his ten toes are amputated, as a result of being declawed, a cat may also experience the following short-term and/or long-term consequences:
  • Behavioral changes, becoming shy or even aggressive
  • Litter box aversion - cats may stop using the litter box because their paws remain very sensitive after being declawed, and stepping in/scratching the clay or sand litter may be uncomfortable or even painful, resulting in the cat eliminating around the house instead of using the litter box
  • The "phantom limb" phenomenon (the feeling that an amputated toe is still there even after the stumps have healed), which results in issues such as chronic pain, balance problems, and more
  • Loss of an essential means of defense
Declawing - Human Fingers
So, rather than solving a problem, declawing often creates more serious problems - problems which may not be able to be fixed such as a cat that now soils the carpet and bites. As a result, many declawed cats are abandoned and left outside, without the proper means to defend themselves. Many others are surrendered to animal shelters with no alternatives other than to be euthanized, since no one wants to adopt a cat that bites or doesn't use the litter box.
Now, not every cat that gets declawed is guaranteed to face these long-term issues. But with so many that do, why take the chance? Is this risk really worth it? Is it worth it to put your cat through this much pain and trauma? Especially when there are so many alternatives out there that are much more humane and very effective; and, they don't have the likelihood of causing negative behaviors, all while being significantly less expensive!
Why not try some of these alternatives first, such as:
  • Routine nail trimming
    • CSTAR offers nail trimming for just $5 per cat at the Spay Our Strays Clinic, and nail trimming is also offered at most veterinary offices, groomers, etc.
    • CSTAR also offers nail trimming lessons at the Spay Our Strays Clinic for caregivers who want to learn how to do it themselves
  • Scratching posts (covered with carpeting, burlap, rope, cardboard, or bark)
  • Covering specific areas a cat may like to scratch with a thick towel or piece of carpet, or spraying the areas with an odor repellent (available at pet supply stores)
  • Soft paws vinyl nail caps that are glued onto your cat's existing nails, and fall off with the natural growth of your cat's nails, 4-6 weeks after applying them
  • Adopting a cat that has already been declawed from a local shelter or rescue
    • Why adopt a cat with claws, just to put another cat through such a traumatic surgery and risk so many long-term effects when you can adopt a cat that has already had to go through it?
    • The already declawed cat needs a home, and the other cat needs to keep his claws and his personality and temperament intact

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