Banfield Pet Hospitals have stopped declawing cats, and that really does my heart good. Now, if we could just put to rest some of the myths about declawing cats.
I’m not sure I could live with a declawed cat. Watching a cat without claws try to grip a toy or scratch a place that itches breaks my heart. Paws come with claws for a reason, and two of them are gripping prey (or toys) and scratching itches. So I was happy to hear that Banfield Pet Hospitals have stopped declawing cats. “Current evidence does not support the use of elective declawing surgery as an alternative to relinquishment, abandonment, or euthanasia,” Banfield says in a new policy statement. But it’s possible the huge chain of vet clinics also saw the claw marks on the wall. The policy statement points out that several of the jurisdictions where it has hospitals ban declawing cats.
Declawing is illegal in New York State. And California, New Hampshire and New Jersey are working on statewide declaw bans. Some of the cities that ban declawing include Denver and West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Monica and Berkeley in California.
Countries that ban declawing include England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Israel, Australia and New Zealand.
Declawing Cats Is More Than A Manicure
Declawing is more than a manicure. It’s major surgery that involves using a scalpel, guillotine or laser, to amputate the top digits of the cat’s toes. But cats come with claws for many reasons, among them balance, correct posture and the ability to stretch the muscles in their backs.
Unlike other animals, cats walk on their toes. Losing the top digits of their toes can affect their posture and their ability to balance in small spaces. Since they’re no longer able to get a good grip to stretch the muscles in their backs, declawed cats are prone to arthritis. With their first line of defense — their claws — gone, declawed cats often become biters. And many develop a litter box aversion.
The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management says declawing cats can cause chronic phantom pain and suggests that some declawed cats need pain medication for life.
Shredding The Myths About Declawed Cats
Myth: A declawed cat can’t ruin the furniture.
Truth: While it’s true that a declawed cat most likely won’t tear your furniture, the cat will make noticeable marks on it while marking her territory with the scent in her pawpads.
Myth: Declawed cats can’t defend themselves.
Truth: Declawed cats are not defenseless. They can smack hard enough with their front paws to really hurt the dog or annoying child. And many bite to get the message across. When cats fight they use their back feet, and hopefully your declawed cat still has claws there. A four-way declawed cat is, indeed, defenseless.
Myth: Declawed cats can’t hunt or climb trees.
Truth: Although they’re at a serious disadvantage, declawed cats can do both.
Myth: It’s okay to want a declawed cat, as long as someone else has the surgery done.
Truth: No, it’s not okay to have someone else do the dirty work for you. If you adopt a cat, adopt her because you love her, not because she’s missing her claws. The one exception here might be if your immune system is suppressed. But you can solve that problem by using plastic nail caps.
Myth: Declawed cats are more adoptable.
Truth: That’s not necessarily correct. Many people prefer to adopt a cat who still has all the claws she came with. If you must rehome your cat, please don’t get her declawed thinking that will make her more attractive to potential adopters.
Alternatives To Declawing
Sharing your home with a cat who has claws doesn’t mean you have to live with shredded furniture. Try these six ways to protect your couch from the cat.
1. Most cats find a tall, stable scratching post way more appealing than the couch. The post should be about 33 inches high with a heavy base so the cat won’t think it’s going to topple over on her while she’s scratching. With scratching materials, location is everything. One of the reasons cats scratch is to mark their territory with claw marks and the scent in their paw pads. If you put the post at the entrance to the room your cat uses most, she’ll be able to tell the world that little bit of turf is hers. Or put the post against the piece of furniture she’s scratching.
3. Plastic nail caps will protect you and your furniture.
4. An electronic deterrent, like a ScatMat, will keep your cat away from places where she doesn’t belong.
5. Putting Sticky Paws or double-stick tape where your cat is scratching will also protect your furniture.
6. Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed helps too. This video will show you how.
Mars Petcare owns both Banfield and VCA. VCA hospitals still declaw.
Read More About Cats And Claws