Safe Alternatives to Declawing Your Cat for Declaw Awareness Day
Cats are declawed for a variety of reasons – primarily to prevent them from sharpening their claws on furniture and household items. What many people might not realize is that declawing is actually an invasive procedure that involves the amputation of each of the ten front toes of the cat’s paws (something that would be equivalent to us losing the entire tip of every finger at the first knuckle) and can cause serious, lifelong changes to the cat.
A cat has claws for a reason – without them it affects their health, well-being, personality, and behavior. Removing the claws changes the way a cat’s foot meets the ground, so walking for them would be comparable to the painful “pebble-in-the-shoe” sensation we feel when they stand or try to walk. This condition can lead to abnormal posture and movement and may even produce arthritis in the legs, which, in turn, may cripple the cat further and cause it more suffering. Since cats tend to hide symptoms of pain, much of the pain is masked by behavioral tendencies that could unfortunately lead to litter box problems, which often lands them in a shelter as a result.
There are alternatives to such drastic steps. With some behavioral and training corrections, such as a few well-placed scratching posts, declawing does not need to be an option. I know at our house we have a simple mindset to declawing that was born of the everyday joy, love and companionship our cats give us – if you can’t take it to the grave with you, does it really matter in the long run? And I know in my case, I don’t plan on taking any couches to the grave with me…
I think my friend and fellow cat advocate, Jackson Galaxy from Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell” sums it up the best in this video he did to help spread the message about the inhumanity of declawing in conjunction with the Paw Project, an organization devoted to ending the inhumane practice of declawing through education and legislation. It’s informative, easy to understand, compelling, and the best argument I have seen to help illustrate why declawing should be banned.
Along with the Paw Project, several organizations such as the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States are strongly opposed to declawing. Certified cat behaviorists such as Marilyn Krieger are against declawing and many U.S. veterinarians such as Dr. Christianne Schelling of Schelling Veterinary Services in California and Dr. Kirsten Doub owner of Union Park Veterinary Hospital in Utah will not practice the procedure at all.
The Paw Project – Everything and anything you want to know about declawing is on this site. From informative videos, to articles, to graphic illustrations and information on what you can do to help pass legislation to ban declawing. This video alone is a must see for any cat lover and is narrated by veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Conrad who spearheaded the Paw Project:
Declawing.com – A dedicated site authored by Veterinarian, Dr. Christianne Schelling that offers in-depth information on what declawing entails, declawing alternatives, and a list of veterinarians that do not practice declawing.
Pet Radio Show – Cat Fancy Past Editor, Susan Logan-McCracken; certified behaviorist, Marilyn Krieger; and Veterinarian Dr. Christianne Schelling elaborate at length in a shared conversation on everything related to declawing. They offer suggestions that range from how to stop a cat from scratching furniture to how and why declawing is so debilitating to cats. Click here for the full podcast.
This video from Ingrid Johnson of Fundamentaly Feline who is a certified Cat Behavior Consultant is extremely well made – it is easy to understand and offers a quick “how to get your cat to stop scratching your couch and use a scratching post instead” visual.
If you are still considering the procedure for one of your cats, I ask that you please do your homework first before you make the call to your vet. It is important to keep in mind that all veterinarians are NOT created equal and the policy of each clinic or hospital can be different. Read the links I have provided and watch the videos to help educate yourself. A little knowledge can make all the difference in the world and if it means you don’t have to subject your cat to an unnecessary surgery, then isn’t it worth it in the long run?