Onychectomy, or declawing as it is more commonly called, has become very controversial as of late; with some veterinarians considering it a common place surgery while others will flat out refuse to perform the surgery. The rest tend to weigh the benefits and risks before considering it.
Scratches and ruined furniture can cause quite a riff between cat and owner, but let’s take a look at what having your cat declawed entails.
Anatomy of a Cat’s Claws
Cats claws grow from a part of the bone called the ungual crest. Imagine your finger at the fingertip, where your nail grows out from the nail bed. Same concept.
The only way to prevent the claw from growing back is to remove the ungual crest, literally cutting of the fingertip of the cat. This is done in different ways, depending on your veterinarian. The most common methods are by scalpel, laser, or guillotine trimmers; afterwards the skin is glued and stitched back together over the joint.
Your veterinarian will then send your cat home with post-op care instructions. Your cat’s feet may be bandaged. Your cat will obviously be very sore and may be prescribed pain medication. The cat will most likely stumble quite a bit, wanting to keep any weight off of its feet, and will also need to learn to regain his balance after having a part of his anatomy removed.
There Are Risks
Some cats may develop problems after having their claws removed. They could get an infection, the glue may have to be removed or worse, some of the bone might not have been removed. If this occurs it is quite painful, can cause recurrent infection, and will have to be removed by an additional surgery.
Many cats develop behavioral problems after being declawed, including litter box and biting problems.
Also, it is important that this procedure is only performed on indoor cats. Completely indoor cats. If the cat has no claws and is let outside, it would not be able to defend itself against dogs or any other animals or situation.
There Are Alternatives
There are alternatives to declawing your cat. Invest in a good scratching post and properly train the cat to use it. Clip the tips of your cat’s claws or use claw covers, known as Soft Paws, to help reduce scratching. Remember that scratching to a cat is natural and you as an owner have a responsibility to help your cat direct it in a healthy way.