Declawing~What you need to know
Declawing! What You Need To Know
What does it mean when a cat is declawed? How is it done? The cat's claw is not a toenail at the end of the toe as in other animals. It is movable digit attached to muscle as a finger might be. Note the strong ligaments and tendons which give power to extend and retract the claws. This is unique in cats. Without this your cat would not be able to properly grasp, hold or establish footing for proper walking, running, springing, climbing or stretching. Think of the cat as having 10 toes on each foot. Declawing is akin to cutting off half their toes. When the end digit, including the claw is removed, the sensory and motor nerves are cut, damaged and destroyed. They do not repair themselves or grow back for many months. Following the surgery there is a wooden lack of feeling, then a tingling sensation during the long convalescence while the cat must walk on the stub end of the second digit. Remember that during all this time the cat may not "rest" his feet as we would after a similar operation but must continue to scratch in his litter box, walk and attempt to jump as usual regardless of his pain.
Since cats have keener senses than humans, they suffer even more than humans. Many pain killing drugs, including aspirin, do not agree with cats and can cause illness or even death. Anyone who has had surgery will appreciate the problem that can be created by the inability to take pain-relieving medication. It is also possible for the claws to grow back, but often not in the normal manner, instead they may grow through the top or bottom of the paw, creating a bloody, painful sore. An Atlanta news station recently had a story of a declawing followed by infection so severe that the cat's foot had to be amputated.
The cat's body is especially well designed. The skeleton is better jointed and more elastic than most other animals and the muscles governing the lithe body are highly developed. This gives the cat great climbing power. The sharp claws can be whipped out for business or tucked neatly away. The elastic tendon holds the claw in its own sheath. The claw is flat on each side so it will slide in and out better. When the cat pulls his claw down with the use of the big tendon that lies along the under part of the toe, the ligament stretches like a fresh rubber band. It is hooked on the end for hanging on.
Cats like to keep their claws sharp and clean (and remove the outer sheath of the nail) by working on the scratching post you provide. Equipping your cat with the proper scratching post and taking the time to train him to use it will help preserve your furniture and carpets. Scratching posts made of soft carpeting teach your cat that soft fabrics, i.e. your sofa and rugs, are proper for scratching. A better idea are posts made of sisal rope or carpet turned inside out. This encourages your cat to scratch on hard, coarse surfaces. Training your cat to use this post takes some effort on your part. If you see him attempting to scratch on furniture or carpet, clap your hands sharply, say no! then pick him up gently and place him on the sisal post. (If stronger measures are needed, you might also want to keep a squirt bottle with plain water handy.) If your cat seems to prefer a particular area, try covering it with aluminum foil for a while. Catnip-treated cardboard scratchers, best used lying flat, are also effective. Most cats are pretty smart and after a short time, and much praise, will get the idea. It is also essential to properly clip your cat's claws with a well-made cat claw scissors. The sharp hook must be clipped off without injuring the pink quick. Cutting into the quick will hurt the cat and you will have a difficult time holding him quiet the next time.
Besides the physical mutilation, consider what declawing may do to the cat's emotions, the personality changes that may occur. Knowing he has not the means to defend himself, some cats follow the precept of the best defense is a good offense, and will bite at the least provocation (and it may truly be the least provocation.) Others become depressed and lose the loving personality that made you choose him to start with.
"The Learning Channel" had a series of documentaries about cats in January of 1993 and again in July 1995 and several of their comments were appropriate to this flyer. In one segment a cat owner spoke to a pet psychologist about her biting cat. It was no surprise to me when she admitted that the cat was declawed. Another segment showed a kitten being declawed. The commentator said that declawing was an American procedure and, in fact, most veterinarians in other countries refuse to do the operation.
I have recently heard about another nasty piece of business that some veterinarians are advocating as an "alternative" to Declawing; Tendonectomy--the cutting of the tendons themselves to prevent the claws from being extended. This is a bad, if not worse, than declawing itself. The claws continue to grow and constant maintenance of trimming must be done for the rest of the cat's life. (The same trimming procedure that if done anyway will keep your cat's intact claws shortened, blunted and less damaging to your furniture.) Failure to trim claws in this situation will result in additional veterinary attention throughout the cat's life as the claws will grow around and into the paw pad of the foot. You can imagine how much daily pain a cat would have to go through in this condition.
If you really love your cat, you will want him to lead a long, happy life, giving and receiving love and affection. If you really love him, and care about him, don't declaw him.
We wish to thank and give credit to the All State Burmese Society, a CFA club, from whom the bulk of this information was gathered.
The information above may be reprinted as long as it is not changed in any way and credit is given to All States Burmese Society.
LASER DECLAW---Is it REALLY better?
(picture of a laser bone burn on paw)
"Or is the laser declaw simply man's latest attempt to ease the guilt of maiming one of nature's most perfectly designed creatures while still making money?"
A relatively new method of veterinary surgery, the laser machine, costs around $45,000. Is this giving veterinarians 45,000 reasons now to promote declaw surgery? Some people think so.
Even if declawing is expertly done by a top veterinarian surgeon, with no surgical complications, the results and after effects are the same. It still carries with it possibilities of future complication. After surgery pain meds are still needed. Kitty's toes are still mutilated!
People are being falsely led to believe that laser surgery will somehow be a painless procedure, and that it is OK to have your animal declawed by this method. Longterm problems associated with any amputation will still present themselves
Once cat owners actually learn the TRUTH, that cats are indeed EASILY trained, that cats MUST have their OWN furniture, that the only truly happy cats still have their claws, mutilations will cease to exist! Till then, protective laws are very much needed.
* Many verterinarians, fearing loss of money into their clinics as some people slowly began to realize the problems connected with amputation of claws, bone, ligaments and veins, intialized still another idea to coax unaware pet parents into their clinics. The Laser! Sadly, there is still a great amount of pain connected with laser, though tests show the pain comes later with laser and two days later you couldn't tell a scalpel declaw from a laser declaw, people somehow have been lead to believe this is OK. Because there is less bloody mess? It's still actual bone amputation, and longterm affects both physical and psychological may ruin the pet person's chance of enjoying a healthy, happy, well behaved kitty. Because undue stress leads to health problems, and because simple logic should deduct that this surgery, no matter how it's done, is unethical, cruel , unnecessary, and may carry with it potential longterm problems...still...
Before you even THINK of such a drastic step-
Please...ask yourself THIS...
When thinking of the laser as a method of taking away your pets' defense, its' fingers or toes, think again!
* Would you like to go through life unable to use your fingers?
A cats' claws are used like you use your fingers! Yes! How happy would YOU be with only your palms to do daily tasks? Would it frustrate you? Stress you?
The answer is YES
Laser surgery is easier, more convenient, more espensive, but laser surgery should never include declawing
*What is your favorite activity? Dancing? Running? Sports?
How well would you master these activities with no toes and/or no fingers? A cat uses both front and back claws for brakes, balance, scratching, grooming, for vigorous exersise, for ease in climbing, ALL of it's claws are used daily for it's own enjoyment. Would you and others consider one handicapped without all of their apendages?
The answer is YES
* How do you best express yourself? Through writing? Verbally? Artisticly?
A cat leaves scents (undetected by humans) when it scratches on surfaces, it's a way he expresses himself, leaves messages (Undetected by humans). These messages are left on their own furniture, if you provide them, Not YOURS. Without his claws, he will attempt to mark territory, but his messages are silenced now...perhaps he will find another way(?)
Would YOU feel frustrated and maybe just give up if you could no longer articulate your thoughts to other humans?
* If you felt intermittent pain doing daily tasks, pain that only increased with age, (what about "ghost pains" from amputated BONE?), would you choose rest over what you once enjoyed, to ease pain, or just to attempt comfort? It has now been recognized that many physical problems and diseases as well as phsychological, have surfaced in declawed felines. Would you, knowingly risk such problems as diabetes, early arthritis, other health issues, too numerous to list, or just your cats' happiness, if you could avoid it?laser declaws are simply burning through bone, veins, tendons, skin, rather than cutting, same result...
The answer is YES
Your answer SHOULD be NO!
If someone tells you their kitty's laser declaw was a huge success, ask them again in a few years!
...if it isn't, and if you do not believe you have the minimum intelligence it takes to train a kitten, or are too lazy to try, don't have the time or interest, aren't even caring enough to provide for your pet what it really needs for it's enjoyment, happiness, and your assurance of a peaceful coexistance ( a GOOD, STURDY, tall cat tree with sisal poles) knowing what problems you may be causing your pet if you take away it's most prized possession, please solve all problems in the simplest way possible- please-don't adopt or purchase a cat or kitten!
problems and pain you may cause an animal for it's life, and still considered having this procedure done, you might reconsider your reasons for wanting a feline as a forever pet, then seriously consider the possibility of another, less active, less sociable pet. Thank you for that consideration! FOR MORE INFO ALSO CHECK OUT:
If you honestly understood the
problems and pain you may cause an animal for it's life, and still considered having this procedure done, you might reconsider your reasons for wanting a feline as a forever pet, then seriously consider the possibility of another, less active, less sociable pet. Thank you for that consideration!
FOR MORE INFO ALSO CHECK OUT:
Still not convinced to keep your cat's claws intacted? Please read this true story written by a vet tech about Nala, the traumatized Ragdoll...
Maybe you have convinced yourself that really the operation is no big deal; sure it's tough, but kitty will be back to her old self in a few days. THis was not how Nala's story went.
Or maybe you are picking out a new kitten and have already resigned yourself to the idea that soon you will have to make that fateful trip with kitty to the vet. Before you make an irreversible decision, let me tell you what happened to Nala. "Who is this person?" you are probably asking yourself. I'm the person who will greet you and your cat when you step in the door on the day of your pets surgery. I'm the veterinary technician who assisted in Nala's declaw mutilation. If you really want to know how things truly are back in the OR, I'm the one who's got the skinny. I'll be taking care of Nala before, during, and after her mutilation (or surgery as we like to call it). Let me tell you my story.... this is what happens: I get to work around 8:00 and check on all our patients. I have to get the clinic in working order so we can begin checking in the surgery patients at 8:30. You are the first client here. We fill out the paperwork and you hand me kitty and say "I'll be back tomorrow . Don't worry!" Then you head out the door, get in your car and go wherever it is you are going. I weigh Nala and make her comfortable in her cage. Around 2:00 or so, Nala's time has come. She gets some anesthesia and some pain medicine and she's out like a light. I shave between all of her toes and scrub them clean. I have everything ready: the nail clippers, hemostats, glue, tape, bandage. It's show time. I hold up one of Nala's feet and the doc begins: The procedure is sort of a half pull, half cut kinda thing. The nail clippers are doing their best to saw through the joint while the hemostats are ripping it away. And please make no mistake here, this isn't a nail trim. A cat's first joint, just like on your finger, is being ripped out. Nala utters a half growl/meow of pain as the joint tears away, even after all this medicine. The pain must be excruciating; it is certainly a gruesome spectacle to watch. Doc fills the gaping socket where Nala's toe used to be with some special glue and squeezes it together for a few seconds. We move on to the next toe until we're done. Now we bandage and when we're done Nala looks as though she's wearing little mittens...aww. I come in the next morning and reach for the doorknob to the recovery room. "Crap!" I think, because the smell hits my brain before I even open the door to see. Blood has a very specific odor, you see, and after a while you have the ability to recognize many things: parvo, cancer, bloody declaw cats that don't seem to like their mittens- all by their respective smells. Sure enough, Nala got a head start on removing her bandages so I begin my day scrubbing her blood off the walls, the door, the floor, and her cage. I clean the blood off Nala's fur the best I can and begin to take off her bandages. I try so hard to be gentle but I know I still hurt her. I have to cut down the bandage until I'm right beside Nala's purple swollen toes and she cries. I examine each hole where Nala used to have claws and make sure they are all still sealed. They never are, of course. There is invariably at least one or two that must be reglued, so I sigh and get my glue. Then I drop some goo into Nala's socket and squeeze her tender and bruised deformed little toes together for several seconds. This hurts. A lot. And I feel like the scum of the earth. I clean the last bit of blood from Nala's feet as best I can without hurting too bad and hope that Nala will finish the job herself before you come. You rush in on your lunch hour and I bring out Nala and remind you that Nala's feet are going to be very sore for a while. You already knew that.....bye Nala. Three months later you bring Nala in to update her shots. You ask me why Nala doesn't seem like the cat she used to be anymore. She never wants to play or do much of anything. And she has turned into a biter! You don't understand, you tell me. Why isn't Nala the same? I don't know why. But I do know that when I watch my cats play (who all have their claws) they love to scratch on trees, climb up trees, hunt moths... (you know, cat stuff). And I know that cats who don't have claws would find it very difficult to climb a tree, and scratching is definitely out. Scratching is something domestic cats really enjoy- I know this because my cats used to have contests around the scratching post. They would fling themselves around it and see who could scratch the fastest and the hardest. I had 8 cats all with claws intact in my house. I also had a brand new couch; the two co-existed peacefully. It wasn't easy, I admit. Training a cat requires patience, much like children. I used waterguns and scratching posts. Please remember if you have a kitten that some materials may be too rough on your kitten's claws. It takes a while to break these things in- give it a little time! Try a carpeted scratching post that also has the heavy duty stuff. I kept my cats' nails trimmed regularly, starting as kittens. Try SoftPaws. Provide fun distractions: my cats had a 6 foot tall cat tree and they loved it! As far as biting goes, this is a common "side effect". Cats with no claws have no other means of expressing dissatisfaction with their lot in life and resort to biting. Or maybe they are just mad at the world now. I don't know. And finally, for those have attempted to rationalize a declaw by comparing it to a spay/neuter- you aren't even in the same ballpark. A spay/neuter cat comes in just like Nala, but she doesn't cry during her surgery. She gets to go home that very day while Nala must wait behind. She bounces and runs around the house that very night because she is so glad to be home. She doesn't even seem to notice that she will never be a mom. Meanwhile Nala is getting a pain injection. Our doc stopped doing ear crops. I hope declaws are the next to go. Mutilation in the name of aesthetics or convenience is still mutilation. Don't add another 'Nala' to the world of unwanted, problem pets who are deemed 'unacceptable' through no fault of their own.