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Written by leading veterinarians to provide you with the information you need to care for your pets.

The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.

Do You Declaw?

For today’s Daily Vet, we’re revisiting an April 2011 column from Dr. Jennifer Coates on the topic of cat declawing. Certainly controversial and yet cat declawing continues today. What’s your take on it? Would you suggest it to your friends?


I can’t think of any one topic that is more controversial in the feline world than declawing. The arguments that fly back and forth remind me of the debate surrounding abortion. Two sides with extremely strong opinions that seem completely unwilling to look for a middle ground.


On the one hand (or should we say "paw"), we have the anti-declaw zealots. They say declawing is uniformly cruel, citing pain, disfigurement, altered behavior, and the possibility of surgical complications up to and including the possibility of death.


Other cat owners consider declawing to be something of a feline rite of passage, with the declaw occurring at the same time as the spay/neuter, regardless of the cat’s behavior. Risk the upholstery on the new loveseat? Never!


Veterinarians certainly fall into these two camps as well. Some will perform declaws whenever an owner requests while others refuse all such surgeries on ethical grounds and chastise owners for even bringing up the topic. But most vets — and owners, I suspect — fall somewhere in the middle, but avoid speaking up lest the wrath of the two opposing camps come crashing down upon their heads. Let’s call these folks the muzzled majority.


Can’t we all agree that declaws are justified under certain, limited circumstances? Consider a cat that is quickly becoming an unwelcome member of a loving family because he or she has destroyed virtually every chair in the home. Is it better that this cat be confined to the basement or relegated to the outdoors? Should we send it to a shelter where its chances for adoption are slim at best? Or what about the situation where a cat is injuring an elderly owner’s fragile skin with its claws? Do you want to be the one to break the bond between these two old friends?


I’ll admit it. I’ve performed declaws, but only after heartfelt discussions with the owners:


  • Why are you considering a declaw?
  • Are you aware of and willing to deal with the potential down sides of the surgery (e.g., pain, infection, damage to the legs from bandages or tourniquets)?
  • Have you tried other options, like behavioral modification, weekly nail trims or rubber nail caps?
  • Can you guarantee that your cat will remain indoor-only after the surgery?
  • Will you allow (and pay for) post operative hospitalization so your cat can receive the best pain management possible and then follow up with continued pain relief at home for as long as necessary?


Properly done, a declaw does not have to be any more painful, disfiguring, or risky than a spay or neuter. It is a valid option when it offers potential benefits to the pet in question … just don’t get me started on the insanity of cropping a dog’s ears!


Dr. Jennifer Coates


Image: sleeping cat by Liz West

Comments  35

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  • declawing a cat
    09/19/2012 08:46am

    We have never had a cat declawed.
    People: if your floors or furniture are so valuable to you, get a dog or parrot or iguana or, et c.
    Declawing a kitteh can leave the animal traumatized, as well as permanently damaged. Cats feel pain. Please don't do it.

  • 07/23/2016 02:04pm

    Have you raised parrots? You should try raising parrots before believing they aren't destructive or lack the potential to be. They can be far more destructive. Ask any parrot owner. Look up any parrot keeping site.
    Parrots are also always supervised so they don't get a chance. Comparing parrots and cats is comparing a fish to a spacesuit.

    Dogs can and will chew or engage in other destructive behaviors to furniture as well.

    As for cats, I know people who either had the choice (from their point of view) to put down the cat, abandon it (where the cat WILL die slowly of malnutrition or dehydration, or be caught and killed), or to declaw it -- after MONTHS of trying to train the cat. All the positive and negative reinforcement techniques, even the water bottle method, were fruitless despite being consistently applied. One person had the laser surgery done, which is far safer and has less pain for the cat. [b]As a result, the cat was kept because it was much happier to not get spritzed and from its perspective did not understand why.[/b] Nor did the cat have any problems post-surgery due to close care involved.

    Now some people have a cat declawed out of preemptive convenience. Now THAT is wrong. But the majority of people who do have declawing done usually take the time to find a decent vet, discuss how they do the surgery, how recovery works, risks involved, et cetera. And owners of multiple cats, responsible ones, don't take all their cats to the vet to have those surgeries done.

    If nothing else, nobody complains about "it's against nature" when having the cat spayed or neutered so there is also a double standard in claiming "it's natural" regarding scratching.

  • 07/23/2016 02:11pm

    A little research can go a long way:

    Dogs can and will chew and engage in other destructive behaviors if not trained. Parrots, despite their IQ, are [b]always[/b] supervised when not in cages because chewing and tearing is what they do because they cannot be trained to use only appropriate surfaces.

    As for cats, I know people who either had the choice (from their point of view) to put down the cat, abandon it (where the cat WILL die slowly of malnutrition or dehydration, or be caught and depending on type of shelter will either given to someone else where all this same process gets repeated, which isn't good for the cat, OR the cat is killed if the shelter engages in euthanasia), or to declaw it -- after MONTHS of trying to train the cat. All the positive and negative reinforcement techniques, even the water bottle method, were fruitless despite being consistently applied.

    Knowing that, is declawing as a last resort now an option to at least consider?

    So let's now discuss what happens if one has to go through a procedure that isn't cheap and is usually best not done: One person had the laser surgery done, which is far safer and has less pain for the cat than older methods. [b]As a result, the cat was kept because it was much happier to not get spritzed and from its perspective did not understand why.[/b] Nor did the cat have any problems post-surgery due to close care involved. Healing was much faster.

    Now some people have a cat declawed out of preemptive convenience. Now THAT is wrong. But the majority of people who do have declawing done usually take the time to find a decent vet, discuss how they do the surgery, how recovery works, risks involved, et cetera. And owners of multiple cats, responsible ones, don't take all their cats to the vet to have those surgeries done.

    How come some of the more politicized sites erroneously claim removing their claw nails is akin to removing fingers? Maybe removing fingernails is a closer approximation, but entire fingers? Not true.

    If nothing else, nobody complains about "it's against nature" when having the cat spayed or neutered, so there is also a double standard in claiming "it's natural" regarding scratching.

  • 09/19/2012 09:19am

    In my experience owners can be talked into alternatives to declawing, just take a little time to give them a whole briefing about the surgery and the alternatives (behavioral modifying technics, rubber claws, pheromone sprays, etc...), and on the majority of cases they will choose the alternatives.

    It's always good to talk to pet owners and make them see that in the end they are not owners but rather guardians of a pet, and that sometimes the pet well-being and life quality, are much more important than some furniture that can be fixed

  • Declaw
    09/19/2012 09:24am

    I consider myself somewhat in the middle on this, but more against declawing than you seem to be. I am a breeder and currently have 8 cats and 4 kittens in residence ...having free run in some area of the house or another. None of my cats are declawed and none scratch furniture. I am also very busy professional who certainly doesn't spend a lot of my time training my cats to not scratch furniture. What I do is have LOTS of scratching surfaces and cat trees and have upholstered furniture with a tight weave fabric or leather, not loose, nubby fabrics. If you have things around that are more enjoyable to scratch than furniture, the cats won't scratch the furniture. I'm also a psychologist so probably have a better grasp than some on how to avoid reinforcing bad behaviors. Anyway, I do have a no declaw clause in my kitten contracts and screen as carefully as possible for that. I would definitely give permission to declaw a cat from my breeding for an elderly person with frail skin. I have one such owner who brings the cat to the vet monthly for nail clipping, and they have a tech do it and charge a low fee and that seems adequate for the situation. If a cat from my breeding was going to be declawed because it was scratching furniture, I'd try to get it back from the owner ... I do not think that is an acceptable reason for a declaw. I don't have a lot of sympathy for those situations. Given all the options (training, clipping, claw caps) and the risks to the cat (of course these owners are willing to take the 'risk' since it is not a risk to them and they clearly aren't oriented toward understanding or valuing the cat properly), I don't agree with such declaws.

  • 09/21/2012 12:35am

    The reality is most people have scratchable furniture. Getting a kitten declawed is far less expensive than buying all new furniture.

    What's the goal? If to get more kittens adopted, then I do permit it if someone wants to adopt from me. I can understand it may be traumatizing for a fully grown cat but not kittens. They are growing and I've had kittens with bone fractures which were extremely painful. And they bounced back. And the declawing was a walk in the park. No different than when they were spayed and neutered. MOST PEOPLE against it have never had a kitten declawed and raised it. The surgery is under anesthesia (just like spaying and neutering) with a supervised recuperation at vet's office for two days. And with advances in laser surgery...only more reason to consider it if more kittens get adopted. It's extremely difficult to find homes for older cats.

    I think this subject warrants deeper discussion about declawing kittens vs. cats.

    Please read my story below.

  • 09/21/2012 01:33am

    You really don't know what you are talking about. There are risks and possible trauma to kittens as well as adult cats. I have no idea where you got your notion about this. I have no idea hat you mean about mot eople have scratchable furniture ... Every one I knw, me included as scratchable furniture. Stop nit picking ... I mentioned several things that can help and you pick out something to twist to support your view rather than thinking, well, that's a goes idea that I can incorporate in suggestion I give to people. I really think it's tragic that you are involved in placing kittens at all.

  • 05/28/2013 11:49am

    Andrea Allen, stop fear mongering. You are using emotional bullying to silence those who don't agree with you.

    This is the internet. Not everyone will agree with you, and not everyone will give in to your verbal bullying.

    I find it ironic that someone who supposedly has animals' "best interests" in mind is acting this way... much like how people act when abortion is brought up - which the writer even stated.

    If you don't like what you read here, go elsewhere.

  • Declawing? No way!!!
    09/19/2012 10:05am

    You're wrong, Jennifer! How is this even a controversial subject anymore? I have four Bengals, among the most active of cat breeds for whom climbing is essential to their well being, health and state of mind. Declawing is as cruel as cutting off the fingers of a human. If people are so worried about the "entrapments of fabric and woodwork" in their lives, then they shouldn't own cats, periods. Cats are carnivores and their natural beauty is enhanced by incorporating things in their lives that do not detract from their natures. The ability to climb, play with toys, stalk, rumble and play is part of what makes hem endearing to us. If you want a cat with no claws, get a Gund. You won't have to feed it, change the litter box or interact with it, either. Declawing deserves universal condemnation for all eternity.

  • 05/28/2013 11:53am

    Interesting you find breeding Bengals to be ethical and non-abusive, but argue with a Vet about declawing.

    Shows what you know (nothing).

    The Vet who wrote this has education and experience dealing with this while you just have your sexual frustrations that you have to vent/transfer to your cats. Yeah, I went there. Deal. This is the internet.

    You're full of, well, it's best left in a litterbox.

  • Declawing! NO!
    09/19/2012 10:38am

    Declawing is criminal and inhumane!

  • 07/23/2016 02:21pm

    The same can be said for any cat being put to sleep because nobody wants a cat that scratches the dickens out of everything and doesn't understand why it's being reprimanded. Or why it gets half a dozen owners in a 2-year period of time. Or if it does on the roadside from malnutrition or dehydration.

    And people don't mind having cats spayed and neutered, which are far more invasive processes, and go against what a cat does naturally too. So it's far more cruel, but people don't complain.

    Most people really do try numerous means to train the cat.

    I know people who would not even do declawing but would put the cat right to sleep. THAT is beyond extreme.

    Declawing still has a place, though it should be rare and thought through fully. And done by expert staff with laser equipment.

    09/19/2012 01:15pm

    If you have a choice, I say no. I had one cat declawed and I will never do it again. His personality completely changed after the declawing. I hope wherever the litlle guy is now that he will forgive me. An easy, inexpensive alternative is to clip your cat's front nails on a weekly basis. However, if your kitty is an indoor and outdoor baby than I don't recommend this. If you start the clipping process as soon as you bring your cat home, it will become a normal, non-threatening activity. Then, they can make all the biscuits in your lap that they want. :)

  • Sylvia Rose
    09/19/2012 08:05pm

    My Sylvia Rose (RIP) was a biter and I'm convinced it was because she had a bad declaw years before she came to live with me. Her poor little paws were a mess.

    In my opinion, people don't realize that declawing isn't just a major nail-trim - it's an amputation.

  • declawing is cruel
    09/20/2012 12:24am

    I remember this post from when it first appeared, and I believe I responded to it then. My views have not changed. Why would you take your friend who loves and trusts you and cut off his distal phalanges? I just do not see much middle ground here. Sorry. It is always comfortable to be conciliatory and embrace everybody, but not necessarily right. Why not just trim your cat's front claws? It only takes a few minutes. If your cat is not totally thrilled by this, it is not cruel or painful, and the cat will not hold it against you. I have done his many times. Cats tend to scratch in the same places habitually. They prefer rough and nubby textured surfaces. Avoid that sort of upholstery and provide a carpeted scratching post or cat house. Prime it with some catnip or catnip spray.

    Recently Dr. Mahaney posted a piece about Romney's dog being carried on the roof a car. This generated a real storm of negativity. I don't wish to open up this can of worms but just want want to say that some people who replied brought up the point that 20 years ago our view and knowledge were different. A valid point. At that time it was OK to carry a small child in a car without an infant seat, for example. I hope that in another 10 or 20 yrs declawing will be regarded similarly.

    Please, no more declawing. Remember the Hippocratic oath and do no harm.

  • 09/21/2012 12:42am


    When someone paints the image of my fingertips being chopped off at my mature age, sure, it sounds and looks painful. But I would encourage you to look at it medically. It's a surgery.

    I have to disagree and do not consider it inhumane or cruel, when it comes to declawing kittens. It's not much different than spaying a kitten--under anesthesia, removing body parts. They are still growing. Is a kitten much different after spaying? Not mine. MOST people who oppose declawing have never had a kitten declawed and raised it.

    Have you declawed a kitten and raised it?

    Please read my story below.

  • 07/23/2016 02:24pm

    How many cats do you have that are not spayed or neutered, since those procedures are more invasive and take away a cat's natural activities too?

    It is also not chopping off fingers but removing fingernails. Otherwise more than the nail would be removed but parts of the paws too.

  • No different than spaying
    09/21/2012 12:20am

    When I first decided to keep a stray kitten, I knew nothing about the controversy of declawing. When I approached my vet, he was not in favor of it and would only perform the declawing on kittens not older cats. But I asked him specifically if he had seen any pain exhibited, anything at all, by one of his patients even years later, after the doing declawing on kittens. His answer was no. He tried to discourage me, but after reflection, I decided I didn't want to take the chance of cats scratching my dog as she loved to play with them, and also my new furniture. I'm being honest. But I knew they would be loved and adored and kept indoors. (I live in highrise condo).

    So I declawed both kittens and I was amazed how they were completely unfazed by it. It was no different than the day after getting spayed/neutered. They walked, climbed, bounced around like nothing happened! Of course this is after two days of recuperation at the vet clinic. Over the years, I noticed nothing abnormal at all. No pain, no extra sensitivity in paws, and they did slap my dog in the face plenty. And I do consider myself a very attentive pet parent. I have a routine and watch their behavior, movements very carefully.

    So when I moved to a new neighborhood and discovered all these stray kittens, trying to find them homes was a full-time job. It was exhausting to say the least. I had not even unpacked from moving and was still living out of boxes for months! My priority was addressing the burgeoning cat population in my new backyard, getting the mother and fathers spayed/neutered and kittens off the streets. I had about 10 kittens and found homes for most. But as the other ones got bigger, they were harder to place. So I decided to keep four of them. But one in particular was tearing up my brand new furniture (I had no plans of adopting more pets) and I could not take them to county shelter to put them to sleep.

    But declawing 4 kittens can get very expensive. A fellow volunteer at a cat nonprofit recommended a vet who did great work for the non profit. By then I was well aware of the controversy and could not understand the opposition. Maybe declawing an older cat, but kittens?

    I went to visit him and had an honest discussion. He read my mind--If the surgery is done when they are kittens, which is a major surgery like spaying, and they are still growing, and going to a loving home where they are kept strictly indoors, he agreed it would help find more homes for kittens! It's about the BIG PICTURE. We agreed that many so called "humane animal lovers" never had a kitten declawed and raised one and they missed the big picture!

    Getting a female spayed is major surgery. Yes there will always be a few ignorant irresponsible pet owners who let their declawed cats outdoors. But a golden rule I learned, "One or two or three does not equal majority".

    I noticed my kittens were far more traumatized going to the vet! Or when the monster (vacuum) appears and roars.

    Upon their return home, again, they bounced back like nothing happened. I noticed my cats still have sensation and they do scratch their scratching posts (which I had for kittenhood) and MY FURNITURE in addition to kneading. I am so relieved they are declawed and would not hesitate to do it again. Maybe the cruelty is referring to older cats. But I've had six kittens declawed and have zero regrets. And yes I would not hesitate to spend any amount of money if they had complication after the surgery. When they ate things there weren't supposed to--I instructed the vet to do whatever to save the cat I don't care the cost. (one of my cats ingested something he was running high fever).

    And they do play with my dog and slap eachother and thankfully I don't have to worry about drawing blood.

    Dr. Coates thank you for writing this well balanced article and raising both sides.

    In my personal experience there is no harm done --it's a surgery under anesthesia similar to other surgeries. Where is the cruelty? They still have sensation. More cats would get adopted! I have six HEALTHY, HAPPY, cats that play together and with my dog and they have a very good life!

  • 09/26/2012 01:00pm

    The cruelty is that it's not natural. I'm not an expert on the subject, but it's not natural to have an essential part of their body removed. They can't scratch as they normally do. This is a natural instinctual feline behavior. They may have difficultly walking or running with part of the toe gone. Yes, they will adjust, but it has to have some effect. I wonder how this affects older cats who have arthritis? There also may be an unexpected time when they need their claws; even if you have indoor cats, sometimes things happen and cats can get outdoors. I'm sure there are other issues on this subject as posted above, but these are what came to mind for me.

    What if a cat has issues with biting? Should we remove all their teeth?

    I understand what the vet, Dr. Coates, is saying that sometimes in a small number of circumstances the cat will not stop doing excessive damage and it may be the only alternative to giving them up to a shelter. But I really think this should be done only after serious consideration and effort made to help the cat. And concerning kittens, how do you know a kitten is going to be scratching furniture when they get older anyway? There are so many great scratchers out there now. My cats love to scratch on these and they don't have issues with scratching the furniture. Many, probably most, cats can be trained not to scratch furniture.

    Cats shouldn't be declawed as yet another convenience for their guardians. If you want cats, you may have to work with them and their natural behaviors, like scratching.

  • 05/28/2013 11:58am

    Hmmm... "not natural".

    So, you don't fly in aeroplanes, because that's not natural?

    So, do you also hate GLBTQ people because they love in ways that aren't "natural"?

    There's a reason that is considered a logical fallacy: it is an error in logic.

    But then, I think it shows what you have on your side - as you yourself even say, you don't know much and aren't an expert... but you think you know more than the Vet who studied, got a degree, has experience in a practice, and wrote this article with pets' best interests in mind.

    Also: can you point out where she said this is compulsory?
    That's right. SHE DIDN'T MAKE THAT POINT. So why do you have a problem with people disagreeing with you? You've already stated what an idiot you are. Get over yourself.

  • 08/21/2014 09:39am

    I like your reference to the cat's teeth. I wondered that myself and noticed that when our children write on the walls, we don't cut off their fingers. Instead we teach them. Why won't pet owners take the responsibility to teach their pets proper behavior?

  • 01/05/2015 06:40pm

    How is your child recovering from being spayed or neutered? I'm assuming you've done this "responsible" elective surgery to to your own children to ensure that we don't have any unwanted pregnancies or hormone-induced poor decisions during adolescence. Right? I mean, that would be consistent with the view that cats should be treated like human children, and vice versa. If it's loving to spay or neuter your cat, why not your children?

  • 01/17/2015 03:11am

    Granted, we are humans and our cats are not. That is the extent of truth in your statements.

    Your comment is ignorant and way off mark. Animals can not. Animals have urges that reason cannot suppress. Children can be taught NOT to reproduce. Besides, humans rarely have multiple births and NEVER are humans euthanized because of overpopulation.

    Cats and dogs have multiple births on an average of twice a year. Where do all of these puppies and kittens end up? Being killed in the local shelters because no one wants them. Spaying/neutering is the only way to prevent overcrowded shelters and needless euthanization of hundreds of thousands of animals each year.

    To assume that everyone thinks of their pets as being human is a bit much. Most of us know the difference between humans and animals. We just love our pets almost as much as our human children. As a result, most of us TEACH both our human children and our pets how to properly behave.

    As far as the P3 bone being unnecessary for the benefit of the cat, maybe you should visit The Paw Project, Pictures of Cats.org, LIttle Big Cat, and Save Our Paws.net. These bones do exactly what you claim they do not. The claw does NOT attach to these bones, they grow out of them. Not only is the claw cut off, the entire knuckle is amputated. According to the veterinarians at the sites I mentioned (and others), these bones are weight bearing. Cats need them to properly walk.

    Also, the percentages you quote are WRONG!!! Cats never function normally again. They use their claws for more than just scratching. They use them to help pick things up, climb, play, hunt, etc. Declawed cats can NOT climb because the claws are the tools they need for the job.

    The amputation of bone is exactly the same for all creatures, regardless of human or animal. Just ask any amputee. Not only is the bone removed, but so are blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, muscles, flesh, joints, nerves, etc. This prevent the amputee from ever being normal again. Nothing he tries to do can be done the same way you do it. After a while, the tendons in the paw/hands start to shrivel and shrink up. They cause what vets call "tent toes" which is very painful. Arthritis takes over and the cat has to shift his weight from the normal forward position to always on his hind legs. That causes painful spinal changes and other joints start to seize up. It continues on from there.

    And don't forget about all the complications that come from surgeries! Infection, pain, dead tissue, death, loss of entire limbs, bone fragments left in the toe, laser burns, ulcers, deformed pads. the list goes on.

    Here are some links that will explain things a little more:

  • 07/23/2016 02:34pm

    With 7 billion humans on this planet, you tell us. :)

  • 07/23/2016 02:27pm

    Get a kid to use a knife to write in the walls with... the parallel with writing with a crayon isn't on equal terms.

    Also ,why do people believe that those who get cats declawed never tried to do any positive or negative reinforcement or numerous other things so they wouldn't go to a last resort such as declawing, or abandoning, or putting to sleep, or anything else?? I'd say "think" instead of "believe" but assumptions are based on belief, not thought.

  • 01/05/2015 06:37pm

    The bone that is removed serves no other purpose but to function as the surface to which the claw attaches. This bone is not a weight-bearing bone and is not even functional when the claws are retracted. After declawing, the cat's paw functions exactly as it does 90% of the time. The 10% that is different is during functions that require the claws to extend and grasp. Cats that have been declawed learn to work around this limitation and can still climb, jump, run and play normally. There is absolutely no truth to the notion that removing this tiny barely functional bone is anything at all like amputating part of a human finger. They are both bones, that is the extent of the similarity.

    You are a human. Your cat is not.

  • 09/29/2012 05:17pm

    Spaying female cats is essential, not only to fight overpopulation, but spaying can prevent a host of serious medical conditions, such as mamamary cancer if kitty is spayed prior to first estrus, ovarian cancer and uterine cancer. Females who are spayed make better companions since they don't go into heat and are constantly frustrated by not being able to breed if they are kept indoors. It is far kinder to a female to have her spayed.

    But there is NO similarity between spaying and declawing. Declawing has absolutely no medical value unless there is a deformity or a serious accident to the paw that requires the amputation of the last knuckle in the paw. Most folks don't know that declawing amputation and not just removing the claw from the nailbed.

    No matter-- cats need those joints to ambulate correctly. Cats walk on their toes, so without that joint they are forced to walk on the paw pad- throwing their body out of whack.

    Declawing can result in arthritis, infections and horrific pain that can continue indefinitely. That is why cats often stop using litter boxes.

    Claws are a cat's first line of defense. If they lose this ability they often resort to biting. Cats bites are far more dangerous to humans than scratches.

    Just imagine having the tips of your fingers chopped off... that is what happens to cats who are declawed. It is not necessary. Cats can be trained, we can clip their nails- and kitty is happy being able to use their bodies the way they were designed.

  • 05/28/2013 12:02pm


    You've figured out ctrl c and then ctrl v!
    OMG! You might be the smartest... oh wait.

    You just copied and pasted this:
    which uses emotional pleas and over-exaggeration of risks to get people to agree with them.

    This is the kind of scat the Vet was trying to stop in her article... thanks, you just keep multiplying the hyper-emotional exaggeration. You know *so much more* than Vets.

  • 01/17/2015 03:13am

    I agree! Maybe ScottMc76 needs to read this too.

  • 08/21/2014 09:37am

    I am glad that you love your cats and are an attentive pet owner. The world needs more of them.

    BUT unfortunately, declawing can not be compared to spaying and neutering. While all are major surgeries, no one needs their reproductive organs to function normally in everyday life. The only thing that is affected is the ability to reproduce.

    That being said: Declawing is a LOT more involved than removing the claws. Dr. Coates fails to mention this part. Unlike humans and dogs, Cat claws grow directly from the bones. In order to remove the claws, they have to be separated from the originating bones. The only way to do this without allowing the claws to regrow underneath the healed over skin is to remove the first knuckle of each toe. To do this to a human would be labeled amputation.

    Amputation is a super major surgery that involves a lifetime of symptoms, both visible and invisible to the pet owner. Cats a great at hiding their emotions so we seldom notice any thing different. But we are not really trained to see the differences either: Litter box avoidance, biting, sitting with no weight on the amputated toes, inactivity, etc.

    You say, well my kittens acted as if there was nothing wrong. They kept on playing as if the surgery never took place. That is because they are children who are full of energy and have to burn it off some how. They noticed, but can't tell you. As they get older they slow down much more quickly than cats with claws because they develop arthritis and other aches and pains as well as phantom pain.

    It is heartbreaking that veterinarians conduct this surgery because the money is good. That is the only benefit to declawing cats.

    If you want to protect your furniture, teach your cats NOT to scratch it. Teach them to ONLY use their posts, pads, etc. that you supply. I did and my furniture is safe and so are my cat's claws.

    I would like to know what the benefits to the cats are? If you are only interested in unmarred furniture, don't get a cat, no matter how soft you heart is.

  • declawing
    09/29/2012 06:37am

    my mom has had 6 declawed cats, 5 that she had done and one that was declawed when she got him. 2 of them I took to the vet for her and I felt really bad about it, but they didn't live with me, so...

    my 3 cats claw at the carpet (which will, at some point, necessitate the complete either removal of carpet or re-carpeting of my house), 2 love to claw on cardboard and one has destroyed door moulding in a couple of doors pretty much as high up as he can reach - I think he mostly does it there to get my attention. I tell him I'm against declawing BUT in his case I am willing to make an exception... LOL (yes I am joking, I won't do it).

  • 10/01/2012 12:37am

    "MOST people who oppose declawing have never had a kitten declawed and raised it. "

    And MOST people who are in favor of declawing have no idea about what constitutes adequate pain management post-declaw...and their vet may not, either (or they may not particularly care). I say this as a tech who's worked in several practices, and I've seen the various pain management approaches of many different vets. They can vary widely, sometimes even between vets in the same practice, and they are NOT all equal. Some vets do local blocks and pre-, peri-, and post-operative analgesia, and those kitties rest comfortably during their two or three day stay. Others follow surgery with a single post-op injection of a relatively weak analgesic and call it good...until discharge. Those kitties hurt, but the client isn't likely to know the difference. Just food for thought.

  • 05/28/2013 12:09pm

    Thanks for your comment.

    This is why it is important to have a Vet and Tech team who are up on these things... this isn't just important for post-declaw pain, but for all post-op and pain mgmt.

    Make sure your Vets know how to recognise and treat pain and other discomfort in your pets. Ask for reccommendations/referrals before choosing a Vet clinic or hospital.

    And if you think this is something just affecting animal care, think again! Even some human medical doctors, nurses,etc aren't fully educated on pain-management and post-op care...

  • Amputation of Claws
    08/21/2014 09:17am

    While the arguments for declawing a cat seem to be very good ones, I have never met a cat that could not escape out the door if he really wanted to. I know as I have tried many times. That being said, a declawed cat has no chance for survival outside, even if there were no predators in existence. They cannot climb trees nor can they hunt and successfully catch food. Cats need claws for both of these.

    One thing that was not mentioned in this article is that declawing is not just a surgery like spaying or neutering, declawing is the amputation of the first knuckle of each toe. This surgery removes not just the claw, but bone, tissue, blood vessels, nerves, etc. because the claw is a part of the bone. This is a very major ordeal for the cat just like it would be for a human. To think that animals do not experience pain and suffering is ludicrous. All animals have nerves that report pain to their brains just like humans. Scientists have proven this to be true.

    Another thing that was not mentioned in this article is the life time effects of declawing. Dr. Coates mentions the pain after surgery, but neglects to mention phantom pain. What is that? All amputees experience phantom pain at the surgical site. They feel the severed limbs generating pain from the amputation site. This pain continues for the lifetime of the amputee and is not always manageable with medications. Just ask anyone who has an amputated limb. I did.

    And don’t forget that when the length of the toe is altered, the weight of the body pushes down on the remaining part of the feet in an unnatural way. This affects the shoulders, back, the ability to move properly and other things.

    Then there are the incompetent veterinarians who don’t remove all of the claw beds. The victims of these vets are forced to endure walking for years upon nail regrowth underneath the healed skin.

    Once these changes become unbearable to the cat, his personality will change to try and communicate his discomfort because he is not able to speak human. The behaviors that he exhibits is not always favorable to humans: litter box avoidance, biting, sitting with very little weight on his front paws, etc.

    So you decide: Is declawing really worth it to the cat? Or just the veterinarian who makes a large profit off the suffering of these poor animals who have never learned to speak human and voice their own opinions in this matter?

  • It's an animal. Not human
    01/05/2015 06:30pm

    I am in no way an advocate of cruelty to animals, but the arguments that most people make about declawing are ludicrous. Most of them go something like this.... "Declawing a cat is like (fill in the blank) to a human!!!" Um... no, it's not. Felines are nothing like humans. Unless you routinely spay or neuter your children, I'd say your argument is pretty fallacious. Unless your children dig holes in the ground to relieve themselves or give themselves tongue-baths, I'd say we're talking about two completely different creatures. Now that we have that out of the way, let's be realistic. Most people who declaw do so because it's the best solution for both the human and non-human members of the family. For the human members (who pay the bills, provide the food, and avail the non-human members of veterinary care), the declawing minimizes damage to the humans' other possessions, ensures children and guests to the home are not clawed, and reduces stress in the human/non-human relationship. For the non-human resident, it gives greater freedom to roam, climb and "scratch" away without negative consequences. It's a win-win solution with minimal (and rare) side-effects that are mostly short-term during the recovery period.

    On a side topic, there is an equally fallacious argument that goes something like "Clawing is a natural cat behavior, and it's cruel and inhumane to take this away from your little Snookums." Um... I've got news for you, there are a couple of other very natural cat behaviors that you cat-rights advocates take away without batting an eye. First, mating is a pretty important one. Most mammals find supreme enjoyment from mating. In fact, they sort of live for it. When you spay or neuter, you're taking away 95% of the cat's reason to live. Second, spraying is an equally if not more "natural" method of marking territory. And yet, (I hope), you're not encouraging your cat to leave his natural "mark" throughout your home.

    Bottom line? You're a human. Your cat is not. Your arguments are mostly fallacious and based on a slightly delusional need to assign human emotions to an animal that is decidedly not human. And most of what you rail against is morally equivalent to behaviors you yourself embrace (spaying, neutering, limiting "marking"). How about if we just let pet owners make their own decisions and applaud them for offering their home, their money, and their care and affection to an animal that may have otherwise been euthanized. Thank you. That is all.

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