Cats use their claws everyday - whether they’re hunting for their favourite toy, stretching after a long nap or climbing up their cat tower. However, their sharp claws can also sometimes be a nuisance. Cats can be prone to scratching up furniture or may even hurt people or other animals by accident.
This might make declawing your cat seem like a tempting solution. While this might indeed prevent your cat from scratching up furniture, the reality is that it’s far from beneficial for your cat.
In fact, declawing can be absolutely cruel, especially when there are alternatives around!
#1 Declawing is More Invasive Than You Think
The surgical process of declawing might sound simple, but it’s far from that. Known as onychectomy, declawing is a process where part of your cat’s toes are amputated surgically with a scalpel. The wounds are then closed with stitches.
An alternative method of declawing involves laser surgery where a laser is used to cut through tissue. However, the outcome is the same.
Another form of declawing is known as tendoctomy. In this procedure, the tendon that controls your cat’s claws are severed. This way, your cat isn’t able to control their claws but can still keep them. However, this method actually causes abnormal thick claw growth that can cause a whole host of other problems like claws getting stuck in the carpet or on people.
These methods are very invasive and come with a lot of possible complications. Some research studies have found that declawing procedures may be associated with the same complications of normal amputations like bleeding, lameness and infection.
#2 Declawing Affects Your Cat’s Lifestyle
Once declawed, your cat will likely experience a lot of changes to their natural lifestyle. For one, removing your cat’s claws will cause changes in the way their feet meet the ground. This can cause a lot of pain and discomfort to your cat.
Improperly removed claws can also regrow unnaturally, creating possible issues like nerve damage or bone spurs. Furthermore, given that these procedures are permanent - that means your cat’s lifestyle is similarly permanently affected.
#3 Declawing Affects Your Cat’s Behaviour
At the end of the day, your cat’s claws are vital to their daily life. Once removed, cats can no longer perform simple everyday routines like natural stretching or kneading rituals. Over time, as they age, your cat may also become weaker and may experience debilitating arthritis.
Cats without claws are no longer able to defend themselves. As such, they may live in a state of stress. Instead of becoming calmer and attacking others less, your cat may actually turn to biting to defend itself.
Declawed cats may also stop using their litter boxes since it can be painful for them to cover their waste in the litter box. They’ll therefore turn to less painful places to find relief like carpets or beds.
Veterinarians Don’t Recommend Declawing
Because of the dangers of declawing, veterinarians in Singapore are, by law, required to suggest non-surgical alternatives to this invasive surgery. They are also required to ensure that enough efforts have been made to manage scratching issues with your cat before performing any surgery.
According to the Code of Ethics for Veterinarians (Annex A, 4.1), which was co-developed by AVA and the Singapore Veterinary Association, declawing procedures should only be performed as an absolute last resort. In fact, it should only be used when the only alternative left is euthanasia. With all this information in mind, it’s clear that declawing should never be considered unless absolutely necessary. And even then, you should only consider declawing your cat if they are a danger to themselves, other pets or humans and you have tried to help them manage their scratching.
Alternatives To Declawing
Instead of declawing your cat, there are many safe alternatives that can help reduce the impact of your cat’s claws without hurting them.
For instance, if your cat has a habit of scratching up furniture, consider purchasing cat-safe furniture spray like NaturVet’s No Scratch! Spray for Cats. These types of sprays can be used over furniture, drapes or carpets and discourages cats from scratching these surfaces without harming your cat.
You can also train your cat to scratch safely by redirecting them to scratchers. These types of toys are also great ways to help maintain your cat’s nails and prevent them from getting too sharp. If you’re looking for a good scratch toy, PetRebels’ Cheap Bastards Cat Pole is a perfect option. It’s made of high quality, non-toxic material that is responsibly sourced and made to be extra durable
If your cat has a tendency to be aggressive when stressed or in other specific situations, you can try using catnip and catnip cat toys. Catnip toys have pouches to securely hold catnip, providing your feline an irresistible scent that will definitely help your cat mellow down when stressed.
Finally, talk to your vet! If you can't seem to find something that works for your kitty, your veterinarian may have alternative options. They may also be able to recommend trainers who specialise in behaviour modification for cats.
Declawing may sound like a simple and painless procedure, but in reality it can have a long-lasting impact on your cat. As far as possible, avoid declawing your cat in favour of the safe alternatives, unless absolutely necessary or advised by a vet.
Tammi is an avid writer, but especially loves learning and writing about animals! She spends her free time visiting cat cafes, playing video games and having plenty of cuddle time with her pup.