Part of cat ownership is understanding that your feline friend needs to be able to give herself space to stretch out and file down her claws. Wild cats do this on trees and other hard surfaces, but our domesticated kitties don’t always have that opportunity – so they end up using our furniture. Some owners still feel overwhelmed by this behavior or simply want to stop it before it even starts, so they choose to declaw their cats. Unfortunately, declawing is a very painful procedure that is almost always unnecessary. While it’s not as common as it used to be and many veterinarians are refusing to perform it, there are still owners considering it an option. Below we’ve compiled a list of reasons you should never declaw your cat.
#1 – Long-Term Pain & Side Effects
Declawing is one of the most painful procedures commonly performed on cats. Declawing isn’t simply cutting down the nails; it removes the first joint of each toe on your cat’s foot. Not only is the procedure itself painful, there are reports of cats experiencing chronic pain syndrome for the rest of their lives. Other side effects from declawing include nerve damage, lameness, infection and hemorrhaging. In fact, it’s estimated 50-80% of cats had complications after their surgery while still recovering at the veterinary hospital.
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#2 – Litterbox Avoidance
The recovery from a declaw procedure takes a few weeks, and in this time it’s certain that your cat will have to use the litterbox. Unfortunately, cats are still very much in pain when they need to cover their business after going to the bathroom. Because it hurts so much to dig in the litter, they often associate this pain with the litterbox itself and soon avoid it – favoring your soft carpet or furniture instead.
#3 – Aggression & Biting
Even though your cat has no claws, he may turn to biting and become more aggressive after he’s been declawed. This happens for a variety of reasons. First, your cat is in pain and therefore cannot protect himself with his feet, so he starts biting to let out his frustration and discomfort. Cats can be picky about when and where they enjoy being touched, and a warning swat is a good way for them to tell us they don’t like something. When it hurts to swat, even if they don’t intend to scratch us, their next line of communication is a painful bite.
#4 – Loss of Defense Mechanism
If you have an indoor only cat, having a first line of defense in claws isn’t as important as it is if your cat goes outside. Outside cats need to be able to protect themselves, and they do that first and foremost with their claws. When they lose their claws, they lose a defense mechanism. Not only are they unable to defend themselves, many cats feel pain using their declawed feet because of the possible surgery complications.
#5 – Arthritis
Further proof that declawing can cause long-term pain is the higher presence of arthritis in cats that have gone through the procedure. Research has found that after being declawed, cats will shift their body weight when they move during recovery to relieve the pain they feel. This alters their gait and can even change their joint structure and create extra stress in the bones where it normally won’t be. This leads to early and unnecessary arthritis and cannot be avoided should your cat change his gait pattern.