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Declawing: Two sides to every story


The declawing issue has always been two sided. There are those that are vehemently against it and those who are OK with it.


Those against declawing say that any amputation to an animal is not ok and that it will also remove the cats ability to defend themselves and that they believe it will cause emotional issues.


Those on the flip side choose this surgery for many reasons: Indoor only pets, preventing furniture damage, avoidance of scratching elderly, or other family pets etc.


Whichever side of the declawing issue you are on, there are only 2 countries that allow it. That's the USA and Canada. It is outlawed all over Europe as an inhumane thing to do. Bears, Big Cats as well as all other animals are included in the ban.


Some vets will want to have a consultation prior to the surgery; however, most vets donít believe that declawing harms the cat in any way. A vet may want to know if the kitten is being observed, to see if scratching is becoming a problem. The recommended age to declaw is between three and four months of age.


The procedure is not a complicated surgery. The surgeon makes a small cut behind the claw and removes the first digit with with a laser or a sharp object (scalpel). The ligament that holds the first and second joint together is severed to remove the first joint. Each toe is then sealed with glue and bandaged. Cats normally recover fully in about 10 days. Adults cat do not adjust as well to declawing and it may take a month or so for them to recover.


There are many reasons why some people are against declawing. The operation is costly, it is painful for the cat for the first week to name a couple. It has been said that claw removal can damage the cat emotionally but there are no studies nor evidence to back up this theory. Bad litter box issues are also a possibility as there is pain for the first week. A kitten may associate the litter box with pain. But retraining is always an option. Behavioral issues are what most people feel the biggest issues are, vets say that it isn'y an issue at all.


Some cats that they undergo the surgery may have a personality change. They might become more fearful, realizing their first line of defense is gone. They might also begin to bite, since they can no longer scratch. A vet that is not good at declawing might make mistakes, causing a life of pain for a cat. Another reason are some believe it is wrong to do any amputation to any animal, including tail docking, ear cropping etc.


There may be times when a cat simply needs to be declawed in order for him to be able to live peacefully with his family. If a cat is terribly destructive or possibly aggressive to the point of injuring family members, it is worth having the cat declawed rather than turning the cat outside or over to a shelter. The cat will not lose its natural instinct to scratch, but the scratching will not harm furniture or carpets. Of course, as stated above, there is the safety factor to kids and pets from accidental scratches. There is a tremendous amount of bacteria that is carried in the claws. Some vets believe that removing them will lesson the spread of bacteria's to other animals and people if they are removed.


All kittens should be introduced to a scratching post at a very young age. It is easy enough to train kittens to use a scratching post, as it is in their nature to do so. Tell them "no" each time they attempt to scratch elsewhere, and be consistent with training. You can teach older adopted kitties to use the scratching post by using a little catnip. If you have a cat that is an anxious scratcher, Feliway is an excellent option to help calm kitty. Another tip is to invest in a nice, heavy scratching post so that it doesnít tip over. Sisal rope also seems to be a preference over carpeted scratching posts.


Before you make a decision to have your cat declawed, give them a chance and make sure they are going to be problem scratchers. If you are adopting an older pet and are thinking of having them declawed, why not look for rescue kitties that have already been declawed! And if you are thinking of buying a purebred kitten and plan to declaw, make sure that there isnít a clause in your kitten contract restricting you from doing so. Many breeders will void your health contract if a kitten has been declawed.


There are alternatives to declawing. If youíre still not sure, but are concerned about your kittyís potentially damaging talons, you might want to try a few alternatives first.


Provide places for your pet to scratch, like cat trees and scratching posts. There are a ton of options for scratching devices out there. The ones made with rope are preferred by trainers and behaviorist. If your cat doesnít take to the posts right away, try spraying some catnip around the approved scratching spots. Liquid spray bottles of catnip can be picked up in most pet stores or online.


The main reason a cat claws is because of nail growth. As the nails grow, the outside of the old nail dies and needs to be remove. Clawing removes the nail that is being shed. During this process the cats nails also itch and scratching is a way of "scratching the itch". Boredom is also another reason a cat may claw things. Make sure your cat gets plenty of exercise and has several toys to play with. Trimming the nails every couple weeks will also greatly reduce the amount of scratching a cat will want to do. Keep your catís nails properly trimmed and smooth, which will discourage scratching. You may also want to try some of the methods of repelling a cat to stay away from a certain something or area. There are several products on the market for these kinds of products.


Once itís done, itís irreversible. Declawing is an serious decision. As your cat will have to live with this forever, think hard on this decision.