Black kitty raising its clawed paw
can make informed decisions. The decision to declaw is one that should not be taken lightly – if you are considering this, be sure to do your homework – you owe it to your cat.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recently announced an amendment to their declaw policy:
“… the procedure is a major surgery that should only be performed after alternatives have been sought to prevent destructive clawing.”
The AVMA stresses that declawing should be done as an absolute last resort – only when euthanasia is being considered or possibly when the cat’s claws could harm a person, such as an elderly adult with very thin skin (if the cat is a companion animal to that person).
I applaud this, as a step in the right direction, and at the same time recognize that in the U.S., we have a long way to go in educating the public about declawing. At least 22 countries outlaw declawing including Australia, Brazil, Israel, Europe, Austria and UK. The surgery is only to be performed if it will be of benefit to the animal (for medical reasons). Many veterinarians are refusing to do the surgery… though all too many are still out to make a buck, and are not looking out for the welfare of the animal.
As Marcus Brown, President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners said,
“I went into veterinary medicine to do no harm.”
Most cat owners, and especially new cat owners, may not realize that declawing, also known as onychectomy, is actually amputation. It is the removal of the last bone – it’s like cutting off a finger at the knuckle. Therefore, this surgery is both elective and irreversible. Some people will try to tell you that newer laser surgeries for declawing are not cruel. The fact remains, the animal is harmed in the surgery, they still experience pain, and a cat’s claws are a natural part of their body that they want to use and should be allowed to use. If you haven’t seen a cat race up a cat tree – you’re missing out… it’s one of the wonders of a cat!
Types of Declaw Procedures (Purely informational, but I do not condone)
- Surgical incisions and/or the use of clippers to remove the last bone and claw. The wounds are stitched up using traditional sutures. (Ouch!!) It can takes several days to several weeks for the wounds to heal. Many cats experience ongoing tenderness, sensitivity and pain, long after the wounds have healed.
- Laser removal of the claws which vaporizes the claw/bone area. Seen as less invasive, more expensive and many veterinarians do not have the proper equipment. Recovery time may be shorter, but it is still damaging to the animal.
- Tendonectomy – The removal/cutting of the tendons that connect the claw to the last bone. The claw is left intact, but it does not work. Still painful for the cat. Nails will still need to be trimmed.