To Declaw Or Not Declaw is a Very Important Question

Behavior, Cats

Declawing your cat can seem like an easy solution to problems like scratched furniture. But, it’s a procedure that can be detrimental to your cat’s physical and mental well-being. The decision to declaw should only be followed through after very serious consideration.

What Happens When a Cat Gets Declawed?

The medical name for declawing is onychectomy. The goal of this elective surgery is to prevent a cat from scratching which could lead to the destruction of property or injury to pets or people. To accomplish this, the surgeon amputates the last segment of the cat’s toe, preventing the animal from regrowing its claws.

This is typically performed on all of the front toes, though in some cases also includes the back toes. The method of removal can be via a scalpel blade, sterilized nail trimmers, or a surgical laser.

Evidence Against Declawing

Declawing has always been a controversial issue. Opponents of declawing consider it unnecessary, excessively painful, and leaving the potential for long-term complications. Studies do support these feelings to some extent. In a 2017 study, it was found that 63% of declawed cats retained painful fragments of their amputated toe.

The study also found that declawed cats had higher rates of back pain, inappropriate urination or defecation outside of the litter box, and increased aggression. It is thought all these conditions trace back to phantom pain in these toes.

What the Experts Say

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recently updated their position statement to “strongly oppose” declawing as an elective procedure, and feel it is an obligation for veterinarians to provide alternatives to this surgery. Legislation has been introduced in states such as New York to ban declawing and it has already been banned in numerous other countries.

Due to the changing scientific opinion as well as our own ethical considerations, it is our hospital’s policy not to perform declaws except when it is medically indicated.

Alternatives to Declawing Your Cat:

Regular Nail Trimming

Trimming your cat’s nails can reduce the amount of damage done to the household. It is ideal to begin trimming your cat’s nails as a kitten so they are trained to tolerate the procedure. This can be done at home or at the veterinary hospital.

Scratching Posts

Scratching posts and furniture are the best way to allow your cat to engage in normal scratching behavior. These come in a variety of sizes and textures, so it is best to experiment with different types to see what your cat prefers. The placement of the posts is also important. The best locations are near where they sleep, or close to the undesirable location where your cat is currently scratching.

Temporary Nail Caps

These caps can be glued over your cat’s nails to minimize damage to the home.They typically last 4-6 weeks, though duration can vary.

Environmental Enrichment

Excessive scratching can sometimes be an indicator that your cat’s environmental needs aren’t being met. Consider enrichment such as toys or vertical jumping surfaces.

Feline Pheromone Products

Products such as Feliway mimic the normal pheromones a cat will emit through interaction with their environment. Spraying Feliway on the furniture where undesirable scratching is occurring can reduce this behavior. There is also a related product called Feliscratch that should be applied to the desired scratching locations. A combination of both these products can be used to train your cat to scratch in the right places.

If you have any questions about declawing or have interest in any alternatives, please contact us to speak to one of our veterinarians.

Essex Middle River Veterinary Center provides medical and surgical care for cats and dogs at our animal hospital and veterinary clinic in Essex, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore. Our services include preventive wellness care exams, vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care. Our state-of-the-art veterinary offices are conveniently located near I-695 where we see pets from Towson, Honeygo, White Marsh, and other neighboring Baltimore areas.

Tips for Traveling with Your Pet

More people are traveling by car this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are bringing your pet with you, planning ahead will make the adventure safe and enjoyable for your furry family member. Pet Travel Tips from your Veterinarian If traveling by car we do...

This Summer, Keep Your Dog Safe From Heat and Free From Fear of Fireworks

As July 4th and summer is approaching, it’s a good time to get educated on the latest recommendations to keep your dog safe from overheating, and free from anxiety caused by fireworks. Fireworks Are No Fun For Most Dogs A recent study showed that 3 out 4 dogs are...

My Dog Has Stomach Pain. Could it Be Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is a painful condition that afflicts some dogs. There are quite a few different causes of pancreatitis: Trauma, cancer, breed-specific conditions, and diet are all known causes. For the purpose of this post, we will focus on dietary related pancreatitis....

Why Won’t My Dog Stop Scratching Itself? A Guide to Stopping the ItchY.

Can you guess the most common type of non-wellness appointment we see in practice this time of year? If you guessed some variation of itching, scratching, or skin irritation, you are right! Allergy Season Affects Pets, Too All dogs will scratch sometimes. But...

More Resource Categories:

Help! Recently My Cat Has Been Peeing Around The House

Although cats are known as being highly clean animals, one of the most common reasons they are brought to the vet is...

Does My Pet Need Regular Check-Ups?

Everybody knows the best way to ensure you—or your pet—lives a long, healthy life is by eating well and exercising...
Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons

Did you know?
According to Merriam/Webster Dictionary - mutt is defined as:
Mutt can now be used with either affection or disdain to refer to a dog that is not purebred, but in the word's early history, in the U.S. around the turn of the 20th century, it could also be used to describe a person - and not kindly: "mutt" was another word for "fool." The word's history lies in another insult. It comes from "muttonhead," another Americanism that also means essentially "fool." "Muttonhead" had been around since the early 19th century but it was not unlike an older insult with the same meaning: people had been calling one another "sheep's heads" since the mid-16th century.
... See MoreSee Less

Taylor”s baby is earning his allowance early ... See MoreSee Less

Taylor”s baby is earning his allowance early
Load more