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Claws are Better for Paws
By Paige Burns

The domestication of cats began about 12,000 years ago, and today cats are one of the most popular animals to have as pets. Because cats are natural predators, they are born with sharp claws that are used to catch their prey. As domestic pets, cats don’t necessarily need their claws because they don’t need to catch their food. Without the need for their claws, cats are often declawed on their front paws in order to maintain the upkeep of the owner’s possessions or to prevent harm.

These declawing operations however, are harmful to the cats. More and more people are asking themselves if declawing their cat is really worth it and the answer is simple: No. The risks associated with declawing cats outweigh the benefits.

Declawing a cat comes with many serious health risks. According to the Humane Society, declawing cats often leads to lasting physical problems. To list a few, cats can often experience infections in the paw, post-surgery injury, nails growing back, nerve damage and even life-long pain.

Not only is there the high possibility of these health risks, but behavioral changes are also a common result of declawing, especially in adult cats two years or older. Cats can become more aggressive than they ever were before the surgery. This could be due to the stress and anxiety caused from surgery, or even because the cat no longer feels safe without their claws. After the surgery, it is even common among cats to start viciously biting people, including their owners.

Pain is another factor that may influence the decision of declawing a cat. After surgery, declawed cats can’t use cat litter because the litter could get into their wounded paws and cause infections. This can lead to fear of litter boxes in some cats, which is a problem in itself if the cat is indoors, whereas this may not be a problem for outdoor cats who don’t use litter boxes. Also, cats tend to carry most of their weight on their front paws, so after being declawed, cats will shift their weight to their back legs. This can lead to their wrists collapsing which is also very painful.

Because declawing is so painful for cats, some scientists have declared declawing as animal abuse. In today’s world, some countries, including France, Germany, England, Ireland, and many others, have even banned the declawing of cats because the pain and suffering the cats have to go through is so cruel.

Unlike humans, cats’ nails grow from the tip of their toe bones. To avoid re-growth of the nail, declawing a cat has to be done by amputating the tip of the bone in each toe, rather than the root of each claw. The Humane Society and even some veterinarians have claimed that this is the equivalent of cutting off a human’s finger at the last knuckle. Now ask yourself if your cat were your own child, would you cut off the ends of his or her fingers just to avoid scratching?

Of course, the idea of not having scratch marks all over your furniture and your body sounds great, but putting your cat through as much pain as declawing causes is not the answer. There are multiple ways to avoid cats scratching. Some veterinarians offer nail caps that are easy to apply and cover the nails of your cats without causing pain or discomfort. Another way to avoid cat scratches is to get a scratching post. These posts allow cats to use their claws without damaging your furniture.

If you have concerns about your cat’s scratching habits after reading this, contact your local veterinarian and see what they recommend for alternatives to declawing.


 
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