Declawing is a surgical procedure involving removal of claws and should not be mistaken for pedicure. Declawing puts the pet in great pain not only during the surgery but also after it. Although it is practiced widely in many countries, it is still considered as an unnecessary mutilation and is illegal in some countries. Another drawback is that this surgical procedure isn’t reversible.
Before getting this surgery, owners should understand many aspects of it. The claw is very different from a toenail as it is attached to the bone. The last bone and the joint are removed along with the claw, during declawing. Nature has designed the body in a way such that everything is used to balance its movement, agility and grace. The main purpose of claws is to defend an enemy and to get proper grip while walking. By amputating the joint, the whole walk is altered. Other than walking, even other behaviors like eating, hunting, grip, etc. also gets changed. They can no longer enjoy climbing trees and tall objects which also means that they cannot jump from heights. Declawing changes the life of a cat. Some owners have even sworn that the whole personality of the animal is changed after the procedure. Although medical science hasn’t reported any side effects, but there are physical and emotional complications in the animal. The recovery is also full of pain and the pet can aggravate the situation by walking and scratching the litter box.
Unlike other animals that walk on their paws, cats step on their toes. And when the last bone and joint are imputed, the animal steps on its hind quarter, which can make them lose balance. The shift of weight can also affect the front quarter muscles. The imbalance can be very disturbing for the cat. Some cats even develop secondary contracture of the tendons. Claws are the primary defense for animals. When they loose the claws, they do not go outside a lot because of the possible threats and the feeling of insecurity. And even if they do, there are chances that they will hurt themselves or even get lost. It will develop a tendency of biting. It can get distressed and not only bite strangers but also familiar people and even owners.
As a natural instinct, cats have a tendency to scratch after they pass urine or stool. When the claws are missing, they get an uneasy feeling, making them to pass on rugs, soft furniture and filling the house with odor. Another thing which actually aids this habit is the fact that it experiences pain when it scratches the hard litter box, so it will choose to do it on a softer surface.
There are many options to declawing. Firstly, the owner should understand that scratching is a natural instinct of cats. The act of scratching is nothing but exercise for the animal. It exercises the front quarter muscles and they also gain pleasure out of the whole act. Nail caps are available in the market, which need to be filled with adhesive and slipped on the claw. The structure of these nail caps is very soft and animals can hardly feel the foreign object. The home furniture can be saved from further cat scratches. The claws can also be trimmed, but it should be done carefully. Only the tips should be clipped and not the whole claw especially the opaque part, as those are the tissues and cutting them can lead to bleeding and pain. In the market, many different types of nail trimmers are available depending on the animal and its size. Before trimming the claws, the animal must be made comfortable by massaging its paws so as to not to raise suspicion.
Also the animal can be provided with a scratching post and there are many options available at the local pet stores. But the animal should be trained to use it and it should be done from an early age. Usually animals like rough surfaces which it can shred to pieces. A tree stump can do a great job, but scratch posts are available with a familiar texture.