Declaw Cat – Humane Alternatives to Cat Declawing A Must!

 

Humane Alternatives to Cat Declawing

 

PLEASE DON'T DECLAW US!

 

“I will never declaw my cat no matter how many times I get scratched. Lol” Beckah Beare @78beare

“And I love my cats way more than I love my furniture.” Julie Harris @sabela13

Declawing cats is actually illegal in many countries, including Merry Olde England and the rest of the enlightened UK: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Finland, France and Ireland have banned it outright, and have supported the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals, which prohibits the procedure’s use for any non-medical reason.  In Australia and New Zealand, where it never was popular, it’s been labeled “a cruel and unneeded procedure.”  There’s an active campaign in the United States for its ban.

It’s still legal in Canada, and I say this with shame.  But a recent CTV Vancouver News report gave us hope when it revealed: “A growing number of Canadian veterinarians are refusing to declaw cats, describing the once-common procedure as unnecessarily cruel — and the equivalent of amputating human fingertips.” [1]

As one Canadian veterinarian explained, “Despite what the name implies, declawing, known as Onychectomy, is actually a series of bone amputations, sometimes also referred to as de-knuckling.” [2]

We’ve never even considered it for our own feline family members.

Although, I’ll admit, we didn’t know until recently that so-called “declawing” actually involved surgical removal of a kitten’s knuckles!

I could give you a replay of my own righteous Animal Rights Rant when I first learned THAT!

Instead, here’s a more restrained Guest Blog from two animal experts, Kit Marsters and Ron Ayalon, on this disturbing subject:

 

Declawing Cats – Some Humane Alternatives  by Kit Marsters

In many countries declawing cats is illegal, and seen as inhumane. I will spare you the details of what it can do to our feline friends. I’m not writing to shock and upset, rather I mean to inform and offer some alternative solutions. If you wish to know more details, see Ron Ayalon’s posting below.

One thing that’s important to know, however, is that declawing is not a manicure. It involves the amputation of the last joint of your cat’s “toes”. When you think of it like that, I think it will become clear why it is not considered a humane thing in so many countries.

As humans, we tend to be proud of our houses and our furniture. The way our place looks is often a manner of expressing ourselves, as well as comfort. Obviously, not many of us welcome our furry friends using our chairs as scratch posts and our curtains as jolly good climbing fun.

So what then?

I am lucky. I live in a tiny village surrounded by hills, and my cats can safely come and go as they please. Of course this means that I receive the occasional “gift” of whatever they thoughtfully decide to drag into my home, but it also means that they tend to get their climbing and scratching out of their systems and treat my furniture pretty much the same way as I – to sit on and sleep on.

For many cats and cat owners this is not an option. In the big city, or when living in any other environment with busy roads and more risks of illnesses, cats tend to live indoors. A good alternative for indoor cats is to teach them to use scratching posts. These come in many shapes and sizes and tend to be very effective. A roughly textured welcome mat in front of the door can do wonders as well.

Other options involve lightweight vinyl caps that can be glued to the cat’s front paws. They come in different colours and last about four to six weeks on average. Alternatively, your veterinarian can teach you how to safely and painlessly clip your cat’s nails. These options are only recommended for indoor cats, because outside your home your cat will need full use of their claws to match their outdoors adventures.

These are just some of the alternatives to declawing that are available.

If your concern is about how your cat will behave around your children, it is best to read up on as much information as possible before adding a feline to your family. Luckily, the vast majority of cats get along great with people of all ages, and you can teach your child how to safely handle their new friend.

If you are very afraid about your home and furniture, and you do not feel anything else but declawing will be adequate, it might be that a cat is not the best companion for you. Although most cats are actually quite careful with their environment, accidents can happen. And what you see as your prized new leather sofa might be seen as a wonderful new toy to play with, that you must have bought just to entertain your cat! They are not human, after all.

But that does not give us an excuse to be inhumane… [3]

 

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Why Declawing Your Cat Is a Bad Idea  by Ron Ayalon

Owners of cats will often consider having their pet declawed when scratching becomes a problem. It’s true that cats can cause considerable damage to furniture or door frames by using these as scratching posts. A favorite scratching spot can be completely ripped up and shredded by a cat exercising his or her claws. Declawing is generally done only on the front paws because the back paws rarely present a problem.

The front claws of cats are retractable, and are always growing, just like our fingernails. In order to remove the outer sheath of the claw to expose the new, sharper claw, the cat must scratch. Wild cats satisfy their scratching need on trees or logs, but domestic cats will use whatever is convenient and at hand.

Besides scratching furniture, cats will also scratch defensively, or in some cases, aggressively. People who own cats, and who also have medical conditions, worry that a cat scratch could cause problems.

Declawing is a serious surgical procedure that will be performed on your cat under complete anesthesia. Declawing is not the same as trimming the cat’s nails. In order to declaw your cat, it is necessary for the last joint of the cat’s toes to be removed – the nail bed grows right out of the bone so in order for the declawing to be successful, the bone itself must be removed. Some vets use laser surgery to do the procedure, but the same result will occur.

After surgery, the paws must be bandaged. Because this is painful surgery, your veterinarian will usually prescribe pain relievers and often antibiotics to deal with incipient infections. The time that will be needed for complete healing can be up to several weeks, although some cats will be healed within 3 or 4 days.

As with most elective surgeries on pets, there is a great deal of discussion about whether declawing is cruel and unnecessary, except in certain medical situations (tumors, chronic infections). Studies have been done which exhibit contradictory results. However, several problems seem to arise after a cat has been declawed.

Because the cat’s primary means of defense, its claws, are gone, the cat may be more prone to biting. Cat bites can easily become infected, and are considered to be more dangerous in this respect than dog bites. Many cat owners report that their cats have more of a tendency to urinate or defecate inappropriately after being declawed.

It’s been shown that with the removal of the front claws, cats may object to the feel of the litter in the box. The cat can never be allowed outside again, once it has been declawed, the cat must be kept in the house at all times. Without claws, not only will the cat be unable to defend itself, it will also be unable to climb a tree to escape an attack by other animals.

Opposing these negative outcomes, there is also the fact that persistent scratching up of furniture or aggressive scratching of people or other pets can lead to the cat being surrendered to a shelter. It has been found that approximately one quarter of the cats in the United States have been declawed, and that most owners are satisfied with the outcome of the surgery but there are ways to solve the scratching problem without declawing.

Those cat owners who object to declawing can work around the problem to one extent or another. Kittens start getting the urge to scratch when they are about 2 months old. This is the perfect opportunity to train the kitten to use a scratching post. One that has a rough texture will appeal to the scratching instinct especially. Posts covered with sisal, or even a section of log will be attractive to the kitten.

Even adult cats can be trained to use a post if you are willing to spend the time to work with the animal. Vinyl caps that fit over the front claws can keep the cat from damaging furniture or harming others. These caps are glued onto the claws and have to be replaced about once a month.

Some owners have found that trimming the cat’s nails themselves can help to reduce the need for scratching. However, your cat may not be cooperative during this procedure, and this is also something that should be started while the cat is still a kitten.

Tendonectomy is a surgical alternative to declawing, and may actually be the worst choice of all. During this surgery, the tendons that control the flexing of the claws are severed. Owners must then trim the claws regularly to prevent them growing into the toe pads. This is not a recommended procedure for our beloved cats.

Declawing is not a procedure that any cat owner should take lightly, and in most cases, it’s best to avoid it. There are other options to this painful procedure and if you take the time to train your cat, you can enjoy each other for many years to come. [4]

 

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[1] “An estimated 95% of cat owners choose to declaw their animal to stop unwanted furniture scratching…  Declawing is still taught at veterinary schools across Canada, although now it’s accompanied by discussions about what it means, both in ethical terms and for the animal’s wellbeing.” Darcy Wintonyk, Senior Digital Producer, CTV Vancouver, British Columbia, http://bc.ctvnews.ca/declaw-dilemma-some-veterinarians-refusing-to-declaw-cats-1.1207643

[2] The cat declaw rate in Atlantic Canada is around 25%, which matches the reported American rate.  That means that one out of every four cats here are de-knuckled, which is just not right!

[3] Kit Marsters has written in affiliation with www.PetLovers.Com, a site for Pet Forums.

[4] Ron Ayalon is an accomplished Internet marketer and educator, focusing on the pet industry and unique websites for building successful pet businesses on the Internet at www.Petwebdesigner.com.

Declaw Cat – Humane Alternatives to Cat Declawing A Must!

Keywords: animal rights, cat behavior, cat claw caps, cat claw covers, cat bad behavior, cat declawing, cats declawing, cost declaw, declaw cat, declawing cats Canada, front claws, humane, kitten declaw, removal

 

 

About Brian Alan Burhoe

A Graduate of the Holland College Culinary Course, Brian Alan Burhoe has cooked in Atlantic Coast restaurants and institutional kitchens for over 30 years. He is a member of the Canadian Culinary Federation. Brian's articles reflect his interests in food service, Canadian history, imaginative literature, wildlife writing, animal rights, wilderness preservation and our best friends -- our dogs. See his CIVILIZED BEARS!
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