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Pat Brody Shelter Blog

Pat Brody Shelter Blog

16May

You Can't Declaw with Love

The decision to declaw your cat is very controversial. There are those who say that when the surgery is performed properly, the cat is OK once he is through the healing stage. But most animal welfare organizations, and many veterinarians, are speaking out against this surgery. This procedure is even illegal in United Kingdom and many other countries. And with the variety of available alternatives, such as Soft Paws vinyl nail caps or behavior modification classes, declawing should only be considered as a final option to euthanasia. 

The claw of a cat is similar to the last phalanx, or bone, or a human finger or toe.  Declawing ? onychectomy -- is the surgical removal of these bones from the cats' forepaws (most cases involve declawing only the forepaws, although some people choose to have all four paws declawed). The cat is given a general anesthetic, and the amputation of the nail is accomplished with a guillotine nail cutter, which cuts across the first joint and may also involve the footpad. The feet are then tightly bandaged for two to three days to prevent hemorrhaging. If the bandages are put on too tightly, the foot may become gangrenous, necessitating amputation; often, when the bandages are removed, the cat will begin to hemorrhage, requiring re-bandaging. 

A less invasive, and less common, procedure, called tenotomy or deep digital flexor tendonectomy, sometimes is done, where the tendons controlling the claws are severed without removing the claws. 

Many cats suffer from complications after surgery. Obviously, for the next few weeks, his paws will be so tender that his ability to walk and jump will be drastically impaired. Some cats have been known to actually walk on their hind legs to avoid using their painful forepaws.

Physical complications include partial regrowth of the nail due to the fact that the entire nail bed was not removed, disfigurement of the feet, lameness and "sequestrum." If a cat's nail is brittle or the trimmer is dull, the bone may shatter, creating a sequestrum, which serves as a focus for infection and continuous drainage from the toe. It can only be corrected by a second surgical procedure.

A 1994 study by the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine found that of 163 cats who were declawed, 50 percent had one or more complications immediately after surgery. Of the 121 cats whose progress was followed after surgery, 20 percent had continued complications, such as infection, bone protrusion into the pad of the paw and prolonged intermittent lameness and abnormal stance (standing posture). 

One of the most common behavior problems that arise after declawing is the refusal to use the litterbox. The cat may associate the pain in her paws to scratching in the litter box and begin to use the box inconsistently or not at all. Ninety percent of cats with litter box problems-after ruling out medical conditions-are declawed. 

Some cats will undergo a profound personality change upon being declawed. Frequently, the cat becomes distrustful of his owner and/or veterinarian. He may become extremely time or unusually aggressive, and a declawed cat is more apt to bite if he feels threatened -- his teeth are now his only defense.

If you absolutely feel as though you would like a declawed cat, adopt one who has already been declawed from your local shelter. There are thousands of declawed cats waiting for loving homes. 

~ From Feline Facts

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