Declawing DebatePublished July 5, 2011
Flickr User Dave77459
Knowing everything I know about declawing, I have never considered having my cats declawed. I still can’t wrap my brain around why folks who profess to adore their cats subject them to what many felinophiles consider to be a brutal and painful procedure. I can only assume that those people haven’t done much research before making the decision.
In general, declawing is often justified to preserve furniture, curtains and carpets, and to prevent receiving accidental scratches. With so many humane alternatives available today (such as Scat Mats to protect furniture and Soft Claws), are people still choosing to declaw their cats without being given sufficient information by veterinary practitioners, mistakenly thinking the surgery is a cure-all to destructive behavior?
Trying to put myself in a new cat owner’s shoes, I visited an article posted on WebMD discussing the positives, negatives and alternatives to declawing.. Atlanta veterinarian, Dr. Drew Weigner, past president of the Academy of Feline Medicine, and American Board of Veterinary Practitioners certified specialist in feline medicine, answered common questions concerning the “pros and cons” about declawing cats.
When asked why many people were opposed to declawing, Dr. Weigner offered a response.
"Some people feel it's unnatural to remove a cat's claws, and it's done for the owner's benefit and not for the cat's benefit," he wrote. "There are many other arguments you can make for this - the pain they go through, the complications after declawing. But I think it really boils down to that cats are born with claws and they should keep them.”
While Dr. Weigner’s response is true for some, he doesn’t mention that the procedure is routinely performed by amputating the last digits of the cat’s paws. Many believe it leaves the cat in excruciating pain. It can also make destructive behavior worse with a risk of litter box aversion, biting and aggressive behavior, crippling arthritis, and inability to ambulate correctly, which often results in surrender to shelters.
There are rarely any medical conditions necessitating the procedure, and as such it’s considered purely elective. I personally feel strongly this procedure should be banned throughout the United States.
An alternative to the standard method of declawing surgery, called the “Cosmetic procedure” was presented by Dr. Weigner as well.
“With cosmetic declawing you use a tiny curved blade to go in and dissect out the claw and the tiny piece of bone," he says, describing the procedure. "The pad is intact; all the soft tissue is there. So the cat is walking comfortably very quickly because its pads are fine. When the pads are cut in half, the cat can't walk on them without discomfort. That's what cats put their weight on. And they can't walk on them comfortably for weeks. Most of the pain comes from the trauma to the soft tissue. But cosmetic declawing is not an easy procedure to do: it's time consuming, so not many veterinarians do it.”
While Dr. Weigner eloquently describes “cosmetic" declaw surgery as a more humane and less disfiguring operation, contrasting it with the traditional methods now being routinely performed which may make the surgery more palatable, it nonetheless deprives cats of their claws. The simple truth is cats come with claws. They are necessary for defense, climbing, territorial marking and the ability to fully stretch their body.
So with the cosmetic technique available, why aren’t more veterinarians doing it? Perhaps there is less financial incentive in performing the less invasive, more complicated procedure. But it’s just a theory I cannot prove.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, take a few minutes to watch this video uploaded to YouTube by ThePawProject:
What do you think? Leave a comment and share your opinions.