Hello from Michigan! I’m sitting in a screened-in porch listening to birds and frogs. I’ve got green trees, deer, turkey, and nature all around me. It’s safe to say, I’m in my happy place. You know what’s not my happy place? Sitting through a surgery watching a cat get declawed. Allow me to explain.
Back in 2005 I was a Junior in high school and working at the local veterinarian’s office. I was a veterinary assistant and filled prescriptions, drew blood, checked animals into their appointments, and sometimes, observed surgeries. For the most part, I was okay with the blood and incisions. Neuters, spays, dentals, tumor removals, I wasn’t really phased. Then one day, I went to observe a cat declaw. Another morning, another surgery I thought. It was about halfway through the procedure when I began hearing a buzz, my vision became blurry, and I started sweating profusely. Next thing I knew I was on the floor. I had completely passed out while watching the surgery. Why? Because it was absolutely brutal.
Declawing cats was a common occurrence as most people didn’t want their furniture ripped up by their feline’s nails. It seemed to be nothing more than a feline manicure, something to keep the nails short and ineffective. I never once thought it was cruel or bad for the cats, but knowing what I know now, holy yikes.
The procedure, also known as onychectomy, is actually the amputation of cats’ digits. It would be comparable to removing the bone after the last knuckle on each finger. When I was watching a declaw, the tendons were ripped apart and then the wound was closed with glue. The cats’ paws were bandaged and wrapped and he woke up in a world of pain.
Both the ASPCA and the HSUS strongly oppose declawing cats, unless medically necessary. Both agree the surgery is typically only for convenience for the owners and has far more negative impacts. Beyond the long and painful recovery, declawing can lead to long-term effects. Since their feet are altered, they have to change the way they walk. This can cause chronic pain and back issues. Additionally, declawed cats can start urinating outside the litterbox as litter becomes too painful to walk on. Lastly, and perhaps most notably, cats can become more aggressive.
Cats use their claws and paws as a defense mechanism. They often swipe at people at other animals when they feel threatened. Since they can’t correctly use their paws, they have to resort to biting. In fact, in one study it was found that declawed cats are four times more likely to bite people than intact cats. In that same study, declawed cats were three times more likely to be aggressive.
What to do instead
Seeing as I have cats, and seeing as I have furniture I don’t want to be destroyed, I’ve taken steps to minimize scratching behavior. Luckily, we had them as kittens, so we were able to train (as best as you can train cats) from a young age. We provided them plenty of scratching pads and posts. As ugly as they posts are, it would be even uglier to have shredded furniture. When we noticed them scratching on our couch or upholstery, we scooped them up and placed them by their scratching posts.
There are 21 countries that have outlawed declawing and I’m hopeful the US will follow suit. Currently, cities are working to ban declawing on a local level. Several cities in California have outlawed declawing and now New Jersey, New York, and Denver are all proposing bans. To see how you can help make declawing a thing of the past, check out The Paw Project.
Fifteen years ago, we didn’t understand the effects of declawing cats. As we learn, my hope is that we can work to eradicate it here in the US. Were you aware how cruel declawing is? Let me know in the comments below.
Oh, hey. Kittens and Puppies and ALL THE CUTENESS.
Kittens – I normally don’t let myself hang with little bitty babies but I couldn’t help myself. Mulder (the black and white kitty) is actually a hermaphrodite. Little Mulder was born with both male and female reproductive organs. This won’t affect Mulder’s health and they are ready for their forever home. For more information on Mulder, click here.
Puppies – Meet the campfire crew. These guys (and gals) will be available for adoption on August 8 so be sure to submit an application today. They’ll be scooped up so quick!
I found this dress on the sale rack at Anthropologie. I got it during Anthro’s sale but it’s so cute and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it at full price. Shop the dress below!
Photos: Margaret Rajic