For college students, keeping a pet can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it also requires a lot of responsibility. While declawing a pet cat seems convenient for its owners, it causes more harm than good for the cat.
Cats’ claws are the main way that they defend themselves, and without them cats’ personalities can be radically altered. They may have a hard time interacting with other cats and be deterred from using the litter box, creating more problems for the owners.
“[Declawing] has a bunch of negative side effects for the kitty including increased biting when frustrated,” said Brittany Grier of the Athens Area Humane Society. “Normally they would use their claws and scratch, but when they don’t have their claws they resort to biting.”
Declawing a cat is the equivalent of cutting off a human’s fingertips, and the sensitivity in their paws can persist weeks after the declawing surgery. Along with post-surgery pain, declawing cats can have negative side effects on their physical health in the long run.
“Also if you do it on the back feet it can cause potential back problems. It changes how the cat actually stands; they’re not standing on their toes anymore because that causes them pain. It instead stands on the whole foot which can cause back issues and arthritis,” Grier said.
Oftentimes declawing is done to prevent household destruction or the owners from getting scratched. Although no one wants shredded furniture or small scratches on their legs, removing the cat’s claws is an extreme solution for such minor inconveniences. There are other solutions to the issue beyond declawing.
Putting scratching posts around the house is a cheap alternative to declawing your cat. Also, trimming their claws frequently may seem like a hassle, but is a kinder alternative to removing them altogether.
As of 2016, there are eight cities in California where declawing cats is outlawed. Outside of California, a bill has been proposed in Denver, Colorado that would outlaw declawing cats, which will be voted on soon, on Nov. 13. While no laws like these exist in Georgia, taking initiative and choosing not to declaw your cat can be a step in the right direction.
Sometimes declawing is performed for medical reasons of the owner, but beyond that it should be avoided whenever possible. The convenience of the owner should not be at the expense of the cat’s health and well-being.