It’s hard to write about cats and not do an article about declawing. The very topic of declawing is quite controversial. Some find declawing to be cruel and others think that is an option.
Before I declawed one of my cats years ago, I thought that it was a pretty harmless procedure. I did not have my cat declawed to save furniture or carpets; I had her declawed because she was attacking my dog. I had already had my dog for 6 years when I brought Dori in. Dori had been a stray who had given birth to a litter. I was able to get her kittens adopted, but no one wanted her. I just could not fathom her in a shelter, so I brought her inside. While Dori was pretty tame, she was really aggressive toward my very meek dog. We discussed the issue with our veterinarian and he suggested that we have Dori declawed.
Admittedly, I did not research the declawing procedure before consenting. Almost immediately, I regretted the decision. While Dori could no longer scratch my dog, she was just never the same. She was constantly licking her paws and shaking them as if she had stepped in water. To me, she seemed depressed and that made me so sad.
Years later, I learned that declawing traditionally involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe. Usually this amputation is performed with a scalpel or a clipper. The amputation can also be performed by using laser surgery. Sometimes a cat is declawed using a tendonectomy. With a tendoctomy, the tendon that controls the claw in each toe is cut. When I realized what she went though, I had a hard time facing her. I remember holding her and crying and apologizing. But of course, this did not give her back her claws.
You should know that after declawing, the cat may experience pain, infection and other complications; including nerve damage. Because they are now unable to scratch (a normal part of cat behavior), some cats become biters instead. Fortunately, while I believe that Dori experienced discomfort for the rest of her life, I did not see evidence of pain. I could tell that she really missed her claws.
Since my experience with Dori, I have never and will never have a cat declawed again. I no longer have an issue with a docile dog and now live in a cat-only house. However, to minimize scratching damage, I keep my cats’ claws trimmed, provide cat scratching posts and boards (sprinkled with catnip), and toys. My husband’s leather couch is a bit of a mess, but we live with it.
I did buy soft plastic caps for their claws, but decided against that. Just the thought of fake nails makes me unhappy and I did not want to do that to my cats. However, if this is a good alternative to declawing, then I am all for it.
Personally, I think that declawing is cruel and should not be allowed unless the cat’s heath is at risk. I will always regret having Dori declawed and would like to help to educate others so that they do not make the same mistake.