cat claws

Cartoon by Nile DeFreitas.

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.

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(2) comments

Shirley Swaine

Here in the UK, as of circa 10-12 years ago, ALL elective mutilation/tattooing of animals is a criminal offence. Prior to that however, the UK has NEVER declawed cats (or cropped dogs' ears, or debarked dogs), our veterinary ruling body didn't permit it. The very idea of declawing a cat is incomprehensible, deeply shocking and upsetting to those of us in countries that have never declawed.. Furthermore, the justifications for this mutilation, for it is, by definition, mutilation, are misguided to say the least. Cats' claws are such a non-issue here we don't even use Soft Paws. You have, in the USA, over 1 million people p.a. bitten by dogs of which circa 800,000 will require hospital attention as unlike scratches which are superficial, bites (from whatever source) are dangerous as they are a puncture wound; of those circa 30,000 will require reconstructive surgery and circa 50 will die. You don't remove dogs' teeth (nor should you) but mutilate cats' paws "for medical reasons"? Bizarre. Biting aside, a friendly dog jumping up poses as much danger - more if it is a big dog - to someone with fragile skin as a dog's claws are stringer and non-retractable. Apparently 80% of dogs that bite are entire males - there is your opportunity to do something for health reasons i.e. make castration of dogs not registered for breeding, compulsory. Then there is the issue of household damage. According to here in the UK insurance claims for pet damage run at 55% dogs, 29% cats, 16% others and I know from having bought a property that was so damaged, that a bored or anxious dog will not only shred furniture, but will rake (or chew) at woodwork and walls. Since learning of this horrific American/Canadian practice, I have shed many tears over pictures and videos of cats; with their mutilated paws, in pain, crippled or even euthanized because they were such a mess. One of the worst was a six week old kitten with four necrotic legs post declaw. It was one of the ones that had to be euthanized. Anerica and Canada are the only two countries of the 27 nations with the highest incomes that perform this mutilation. It is both your shame and your disgarace that you do.


This is completely true I personally think that it's a form of animal abuse to declaw a cat. My cats sometimes claw the furniture, but we put up some scratching posts, and they've mostly stopped.

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