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Declaw or not?  

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
My boyfriend's grandmother and I recently were discussing whether declawing is humane or not...also, if cats are declawed(for an indoor only cat), should it just be the front 2 or all 4 paws? I was just curious as to what others thought on this issue...
post #2 of 40
TCS is an anti-declawing site.

Declawing is not only illegal in many other countries, but it is mutilation. They remove the first joint. It's painful & unnecessary.

Not to mention how many cats end up dumped because they spray, bite, or eliminate inappropriately becase they were declawed.
post #3 of 40
Thread Starter 
I argued that it wasn't humane...but just trying to see what others thought or maybe on their approach to argue such a point to someone.

post #4 of 40
Find a few pictures of mangled claws post de-claw... that drives the point home. I personally never considered declawing my cat, but I did some research anyway, because I had people who looked at the scratches I had on my hands when Seamus first came home and was so skittish tell me to just declaw him. I wanted a good argument against it, and when I read what they did, I would explain it in terms of the human hand (getting cut at the knuckle) and I would tell people to look up pictures as I had.
post #5 of 40
One line of arguing that sometimes works is to point out that cats walk on their toes. When they're declawed a portion of their toes is cut off. This changes their gait so they are not walking naturally anymore.

A life time of this walk makes them in a lot higer risk of developing joint problems and arthritis in the long term so even if a declawed cat seems well adjusted it wont necessarily last.

Also declawing as a way to control behavioural problems doesn't work because it just cut theirs toes off, it doesn't solve any problems the cat is dealing with and usually they'll find something else, it's like trying to stop water from flowing without shutting off the tap. It'll just go somewhere else. I.e if it's an aggressive cat, they'll start biting. If a cat is scratching because they want your attention, they'll do something else instead that will irritate the human just as much and in fact declawing can easily make things worse.

For example that aggressive cat becoming even more aggressive because it feels vulnerable having had to deal with the pain of the surgery and the recovery period and then not having the claws anymore.

Also a problem that happens sometimes with declawed cats is not using the litterbox properly. It doesn't happen always but it can and does happen. Basically the cat has extra pain when trying to scratch in the litter and their feet are alot more sensitive to the gravel since there are no claws to help with the scratching (ask people to gravel around with their fingers normally and to do it using only the pad of the finger or their knuckles, not having the nails makes a BIG difference) and the outcome is a cat that doesn't want to use a litterbox and I know I'd rather deal with a scratched up sofa than one used as a cat toilet.

A specific point against declawing all four feet. A 4 paw declawed cat can't scratch itself properly since they use the back feet to scratch themselves. It is very cruel to have a cat go through life without being able to scratch themselves, it's a part of their nature to want to groom so yeah.. that's really bad. Also a 4 paw declaw really affects their gait worse than the 2 paw one ( since the cat is walking abnormally on all four feet now) and their balance is often worse since they can't use the claws to steady themselves at all.

Then for the positive things to say about clawed cats.

The instinct to scratch is in all cats, they use it for marking (scent glands in the paws), stretching (a full body stretch is very important for a cat to maintain their agile body and a part of a full body stretch needs the front claws to hook into something to provide the resistance) and they use it to shed loose claw sheathes when their claws are growing. They don't need to sharpen their claws actually and don't use scratching for that.

It's definately possible to get the cat to not scratch something. In usual cat fashion force doesn't really work but cats are usually quite specific in what they want to scratch on and providing a better scratching experience for your cat on something you want them to scratch on will pretty much work. It can take a little bit of trial and error to find out exactly what your cat wants in a scratching post (made out of carpet, sisal or cardboard? Really tall? horizontal on the ground? vertical on a wall? etc.) but usually it's not too bad.

As for cats and children. Declawing is illegal in most of Europe. It's specifically a criminal offence in the UK and classified as an animal abuse. Thousands and thousands of people live happily with cats and children in the same house with fully clawed cats. I mean you pretty much have a continent with no declawed cats (apart from ones imported from the States I guess) The key is simply to supervise them and teach the child respect for the animal. A lesson that's well worth learning (respect for other living things) and shouldn't be a chore for anyone.


Forgot a few things

As for accidental scratches, simply trimming the claws is enough. If you cut the claws of the cat regularly they will be relatively blunt. I.e go from razor sharp to a fork sharp (i.e not very) and will usually not break the skin in enthuastic play. If you start playing with the paws and claws of a cat from kittenhood trimming the claws should be a easy. I can trim the claws of my cat when she's asleep and she barely wakes up. It's no big trauma and it helps everyone.

If that's not enough there are always products like softpaws, plastic sheathes that go over the claws and make them completely blunt.
post #6 of 40
That was an awesome post and one that I will bookmark!!
post #7 of 40
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for your post, Siggav!! It was perfect and an intellectual argument that I can use!! =) Kudos!
post #8 of 40
Working at a vets office, I know just how aggresive declawed cats can be. 9 out of 10 times, they will do their best to bite the tar out of you. They know they cant get you with their claws so they go after you with their teeth. I have heard countless stories of cats being dropped off at shelters because they became too aggessive after surgery. Bone infections, chronic pain, aggession, and future joint problems are just some of the complications. I have 10 cats, NONE of which claw my funiture, carpets or anything other then the 3 scratching posts they have been provided with. I dont see any reason in doing it....
post #9 of 40
Mine are clawed, and they're doing fine and don't touch the furniture, except for a chair I picked up from the curb on trash day and don't mind them scratching. Baby never had a scratching post before in her life, so it took a while for her to figure out what was Ok and what wasn't; but eventually I figured out she liked horizontal carpet--and then all I had to do was buy a couple of carpet samples (the kind they sell for welcome mats); and she goes to town on those and hardly ever uses the actual carpet. Neither cat has ever caused any sort of damage.

Oh, and a way to keep them off a scratching surface they like: Cover it with a blanket. Guaranteed it won't be so attractive anymore, especially if the blanket falls down over their little kitty heads!

Unfortunately, I still have to wrap them in blankets before I cut their claws; but I had neither of them as kittens and they aren't used to it. They tolerate it all right, though they complain throughout. (You usually need to trim only the front claws. The back ones will be naturally blunt because the cats use them for scratching themselves and for running.)
post #10 of 40
Cats are born with claws. Its not humane to do ANY declawing - worse for a 4 paw declaw as the cat is totally defenseless!

Any declawing is inhumane and not necessary. It causes more problems in the long run (both psychological and physical). Declawed cats are more likely to have litter box problems (peeing in other places), biting problems or being anti social and afraid of people.

Cats nails should be trimmed at least once a week, trained to use a treehouse/scratching post or put on the nail caps if you have a problem with scratching furniture.

Just say NO to Declawing!
post #11 of 40
You will get very agressive answers posting that question here, unfortunately. Many are Europeans to start with and declawing is simply not in their culture. Some lack the proper education on that matter to really understand what declawing is and go with the crowd.

Declawing done by a capable veterinarian before the age of 3-4 months has absolutely no consequences on the kitten's behavior or life whatsoever, except in very rare occurences.

Declawing should never be done on cats who go outside no matter what. And it is not advised to do it post- 4 months since they start to get heavier and recuperation is more difficult, and risks of infection and behavior issues rise.

Soft paws is a great alternative to declawing but does not always work.

Since this site has an anti-declawing stance and debating this subject is impossible without getting warned or attacked directly, I will leave it at that, and invite you to PM me if you have questions about the medical facts of the surgery itself and possible complications, etc.

Good luck with the situation!

Edit: Sigav is one of the rare members of TCS I had a pleasure to discuss this subject over with. What he wrote is also thoughful and considerate!
post #12 of 40
Just to share an experience, I had 3 cats growing up who were front-declawed, and all were indoor/outdoor cats, which obviously you will hear is not something you should be doing, however I do want to mention that we never had a single problem with any of them - they lived to be 15+, kept the yard mouse- and bunny-free, and never came home beaten up by other neighborhood animals. Maybe we were just incredibly lucky, but for the sake of providing different points of view, I do want to share the story.

My own cat now is not declawed and I have no intention of ever declawing any cats in the future, however personally I remain a little skeptical of the horrors of declawing simply because of my own experiences.
post #13 of 40
Our daughter has been the after-school and summer nanny for a family for a while. They used to have a cat that died. He was totally declawed. The mom is obsessive about cleanliness. They got a new kitten from the shelter - a beautiful ginger tabby. That mom took her back to the shelter ASAP because she didn't want her couch shredded and did not feel like forking out the bucks for declawing the cat. Didn't know this was happening because our daughter, Jen, is so loyal to their kids that she didn't tell me until much later. If I had known, I would have adopted the tabby. At least, even though the tabby was back in the shelter, she still has her claws.
post #14 of 40
As a first time cat owner, I have never had any problems with my guys scratching inappropriately. Simply purchase a good scratching post and scratch it yourself. That's all it took for my kitties to know where they could scratch. As for trimming claws, I trim the front claws weekly and the back claws every 2 to 4 weeks (they grow more slowly). As long as you trim regularly, your kitty will get used to the process. Today Keith and I trim all the claws on both of our kitties and it took less than ten minutes total.
As a cautionary tale, a few years ago, a friend of mine decided to have her super loving and playful cat front declawed at 5 months. It took Max awhile to get over the procedure physically and after it was done he became wary of people and bite-aggressive. It was really sad as he was an awesome kitty with a fab personality.
post #15 of 40
I have been using soft paws on Gizmo since she was a kitten. The only problem with them is if you have looped carpet or blankets with holes in them. Sometimes the cat will get caught in the carpet or blankets. Thankfully we have no carpet anywhere in the new house and she has learned not to knead the blankets!
post #16 of 40
My cat has some bad habits but clawing our stuff is not one of them. This is an inside kitty only, I provide lots of cat trees and stuff she can scratch of her own if needed. She does knead, but doesn't do damage.
I have only personally known and owned non declawed cats and they never bothered their owners stuff.

With mine I feel good that if she ever accidently got out at least she would have some defense with her claws. She also lives with three dogs and never hurts them, even in rough play. She is excellent with her claws and she lets me clip them weekly no problem.

Great post from Siggav!!!!!!!!!!!!
post #17 of 40
From personal experience : I lived with a cat for almost 19 yrs that was front declawed ... She was a biter , drew blood most of the time ... it DID change her personality for the not nice

IT is a HORRIBLE operation ask any vet who does NOT routinely ask for a spay and declaw
post #18 of 40
I can't add much to what has already been said (esp Siggav's excellent post) except to say that I consider declawing to be a very selfish procedure done by humans who value their furniture more than a senient, living being. Those sort of people should just not keep cats, imo. Cats have claws and if you want to keep a cat I think you have to accept that. With time and patience, it's easy to train a cat to use a scratching post. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right post for the cat (many cats scratch sofas because they're heavy and don't wobble when they are scratched - a lot of scratching posts are too lightweight), but it can be done. Most of the western world bans declawing and we don't spend our days bleeding from cat scratches and living in homes full of shredded furniture

For me, the ethical argument is the most important. ie, if you could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that declawed cats did not suffer any problems whatsover as a result of declawing, I would still consider it unethical to alter a cat in such a way for one's own convenience.
post #19 of 40
Yeah, I honestly don't know. I'm a relatively new cat-lover and have been thinking about this quite a bit over the past few months.

The problem for me with declawing is that so many people do it without researching the procedure or putting any thought to possible consequences of doing it. It is, after all, a surgery. THAT is the worst, in my opinion. It's also unnecessary in many many many situations.

My SO had 3 cats growing up that were all declawed AND all indoor/outdoor (I'm not an advocate of outdoor cats without front claws btw). They all lived until they were about 20 or even a bit older. They managed to hunt prey and kill birds and do all sorts of things. Front claws are of course an important defense mechanism, but they aren't helpless without them.

I think the horrors of declawing cats are based on older techniques and it's easy to play into peoples' emotions over it. The distal phalynx (or whatever it's called) isn't something you can compare to any part of a human's anatomy. If anyone is going to declaw their cat, I just hope that it's done using the newer laser technique, that they research it, and that it's a last-resort option for them. I am not going to judge them for doing it at all. It will help keep a happier environment between owner and pet, which the pet is going to pick up on.

When I adopted Mattie, I didn't know that she was declawed. I knew about the controversy over it but had never owned a cat, so I went out and bought Soft Paws figuring that if I didn't use them, that she would be shredding everything I owned. Well, when I arrived at the shelter it turned out that she was front declawed (her previous owner) and so it was a non-issue. I was actually secretly happy she was declawed because I didn't have to worry about her ruining anything (selfish, I know...but this is a new cat owner! I wasn't sure what she was capable of). The thing is, Mattie does walk a little funny. I don't know if that's all in my head though. She is also very timid. I don't know if that's from her being declawed because I didn't know her before it happened. I do wonder what her personality would be like if she wasn't declawed, but you never know. It might not even be any different.

Then I adopted Chloe. I bought kitten soft paws (again, because I thought I needed them), nail trimmers, scratching pads (horizontal, vertical, cardboard, sisal, etc.), etc. Maybe it's just because she is a kitten but I haven't even *had* to train her to use her scratching pads. She would sometimes scratch on the couch and on my desk chair but I had to pick her up once and put her on her scratching post thing and she's only ever used that since. I had the vet trim her nails when she had her booster shots. Just tonight I tried doing it on my own for the first time (because they are noticeably longer/sharper! lol it hurts MUCH more now to have her walk across me, hehe). I only got 2 of her nails cut even though she was sleepy. She's just a kitten with no desire to sit still. I am so proud of myself for trimming those 2 nails though, because now I know how easy it really is. Based on Chloe, it's hard to understand how hard it can be for some people to train their cats to juts scratch in appropriate areas. Maybe most people just don't realize how easy it is to teach your cat not to do it? It's so much less of an issue than I ever expected it to be (yay!).

That doesn't mean I'm not sympathetic though. Sure, a cat is a living being and furniture is just furniture....but it creates a hostile feeling toward the cat and I truly believe that the cat picks up on that. If someone is having trouble with their cat scratching/ruining things and has tried everything (sticky paws tape, soft paws, provides scratching posts, etc.), and they are just fed up and want to declaw the cat, AND do their research on the procedure and make an INFORMED decision, then I have no problem with it.

I'm also a little swayed by the people who could give a cat a home but aren't really cat people and are afraid of stuff being ruined. People like my mom. She would be the first person to have a cat declawed, but she could also give a cat a home that might otherwise be put down. I love my mom, but she is the type of person who would just NOT bring a cat home if it wasn't declawed or if it wasn't going to be. I would rather a cat be declawed and given a home than be euthanized. I know that's not *perfect* logic because the person can always give them a home and not declaw, but unfortunately that just isn't reality (at least I don't think it is). A lot of people would argue that someone like my mom just shouldn't own a cat if they are going to declaw it or if they are going to be willing to live in a damaged house, but I just can't buy into that argument. That's one less cat in a shelter, ya' know? Less-than-perfect-pet-owners can still give a pet a home. In a perfect world, every cat owner would make informed decisions about vet procedures, the food they feed their pets, etc. but that's just not the case. Ok now I'm rambling and I probably sound like an awful, cold-hearted, person.

That's my un-PC opinion. Can you tell I am still conflicted about this? I really do see both sides of the issue.

*runs and hides*

To the original poster - a google search on "declawing" will bring up many anti-declaw and pro-declaw websites that are worth looking at.
post #20 of 40
If someone will only keep a cat so long as it doesn't scratch, what will happen if it wees on the carpet? Vomits on the best rug? Or has runny poos and ends up covered in it Will the cat then be turned out or handed over to a shelter? I'm afraid I don't buy into the argument that decalwing is ok if it gives a homeless cat a home. I think that's emotional blackmail and could be used as justification for just about anything. Why stop at declawing? A tail amputation would prevent Jaffa knocking over a lot of things and removing a leg or two of Mosi's might stop him going on the kitchen counters all the time To me it's about respect. Respecting another animal who we have taken into our homes and not mutilating it's body so that it makes our lives easier. Scratching is a natural behaviour and needs to be accommodated by anyone who shares their life with a cat.

I didnt' know until I came on here that there was such a thing as declawing. Most people over here are unaware of the procedure because it's just never been carried out routinely for non medical reasons. I'm yet to meet the person over here (cat owner or not) who isn't totally horrified at the whole idea.
post #21 of 40
Another thought on declawing. When I volunteered at the humane society, roughly 90% of the declawed cats that were brought in had litter box issues. As someone else pointed out, using a litter box after declaw can be painful and some cats simply avoid them.
post #22 of 40
Well I agree with what most posters are saying regarding NOT declawing..Not mush else to add..

Trout does fine with regular nail clipping and she doesn't touch my microfibre couch at all She usually uses on of her cat trees as she has two
post #23 of 40
Im totally against declawing. Most vets around here will only do front declaws. I know one that will do all four paws.

My personal experience with declawed cats revovle around my foster kitten KoKo. Our rescue has rules that no cat will be declawed on the contract and we stress that threw the whole adoption process. KoKo and Luna were adopted. Declawed by their owners and then brought back because the new fiance was "allergic".

Luna didnt seem to be that affected but KoKo was totally different. Sure most of the time he was sweet. But if he got scared or stressed he turned into a growling, spitting, slapping biting mess.

Thankfully he isnt easily stressed when he is in a home enviroment but when he is you better watch out. I warned his new owners and they make sure he doesnt get stressed and he seems to be doing great with them.

Another cat we had to put to sleep in our rescue because she was so aggressive. She was declawed.
post #24 of 40
Thread Starter 
That's so sad!!!
post #25 of 40
my sister adopted a cat that was declawed, the poor things cant defend themselves. Cupid used to beat her up all the time and chase her around, it was horrible. poor Putie, god rest her kitty soul had no idea she was declawed it seamed, she would still try to scratch and sharpen her nonexistant claws. i could never see myself doing that to a cat.
post #26 of 40
Originally Posted by TigerLord View Post
Declawing done by a capable veterinarian before the age of 3-4 months has absolutely no consequences on the kitten's behavior or life whatsoever, except in very rare occurences.
I unfortunatly don't agree with this. I adopted a siamese and he was front declawed at 4 months (his previous owner told me) and it was completely ruined his walk, since he can't walk properly he doesn't run around much and it has caused weight issues that i am now fighting, but it is very hard to get him to lose weight due to the way he has developed because of the way he walks.........because of the declaw. Peopl always ask me if he has hip or joint problems, which i actually had him checked for and he doesn't, the vet even agrees its because of the original declaw, and says that she sees a gait like his frequently in declawed cats, even if they were declawed as kittens.

This practise is illegal in Europe for a reason, I'm not from there but I wish it was illegal everywhere in canada.

He also tries to scratch my cat tree and anyone who has ever seen this can attest it is heart breaking, he tries to climb it using non-existent claws.....and IMO that is cruel.
post #27 of 40
Anyone who believes in de-clawing (IMO) should have all their fingertips removed up to the first knuckle on both hands (4-claw de-claw would include toes as well).

It is mutilation - short and simple. I've had cats most of my life - never had an issue with them scratching inappropriately. I've had barn cats, as well as breeder cats. Save your money and spend some time training your cat properly just as you would have to take time to teach young children if you had them.

Actually to the poster that said most of the members here are from Europe (as if that explains why we are anti-declaw), I doubt that is true. I think you may actually find more US folks than European.

I sincerely hope Canada and the rest of the US (I believe 3 states already outlaw declawing) finally catch up with the rest of the world in regard to de-clawing.

We just had a cat returned to the shelter where I volunteer and she is unadoptable so will remain there for the rest of her life. Her owners adopted her, signed a contract NOT to de-claw, de-clawed anyway and when she stopped using her litter pan they brought her back to the shelter. IMO they need to be mutilated the same way as their cat and then forced to be homeless just like their poor cat.
post #28 of 40
I have adopted adult cats who were declawed by previous owners. I wouldn't go out and have a cat declawed, but I would like to point out that comments like this:
Another thought on declawing. When I volunteered at the humane society, roughly 90% of the declawed cats that were brought in had litter box issues.
do NOT help the adults in the shelters for no reason of their own get adopted. (I'm not picking on anyone, just used this quote as an example)

I worked at a shelter for 2+ years. Of the cats who had litterbox issues, it was about 50/50 declawed cats to clawed cats. MOST litter box problems are the result of owners who think they can buy standard clay and change the box once every couple of months. Trust me, I talked to enough of them over the phone. Or the cat has an undiagnosed UTI and the owner is convinced they are healthy because 3 months ago at the general health exam the vet pronounced kitty healthy as a horse.

This is a hot issue for me, because people come in and want a kitten. Then will get it declawed. They WON'T adopt an adult already declawed perfectly nice cat (usually only 1-3 yrs old) because they heard on the internet or from friends, etc that adult cats who are declawed in a shelter are there because they pee all over. Despite the fact that most of the time they end up there for: Moving, Having a baby, Too many, and all of the other common reasons.

I don't like declawing, I wouldn't declaw my own cat (I saw a kitten pre and post declaw--I couldn't do it), but the reality is I've seen the kitties' options from a kill shelter point of view. I would rather see them in a home (declawed) than PTS for lack of a home. That said, if there is an already declawed cat looking for a home--and the person wants a declawed cat, that may be a better match. I don't have a problem adopting adults that are already done. I've adopted 3 that way, and my parents adopted a 4 paw declaw when I was a teen. They can be biters (but aren't always), and you need to use scooping litter; but they will repay you with love. Like a few other posters I am conflicted about it, because I have seen it from both sides.
post #29 of 40
Originally Posted by littleraven7726 View Post
I have adopted adult cats who were declawed by previous owners. I wouldn't go out and have a cat declawed, but I would like to point out that comments like this:

do NOT help the adults in the shelters for no reason of their own get adopted. (I'm not picking on anyone, just used this quote as an example)
Unfortunately for the "adult" cats at the shelter where I volunteer, they feel they have to be honest with would-be adopters and tell them if a cat has a problem with using litter and because they are a no-kill facility, they now have another cat that will live what is left of it's entire life at the shelter. I find this very sad and all because of 2 people that should never have gotten an animal IMO.
post #30 of 40
Originally Posted by Yosemite View Post
Unfortunately for the "adult" cats at the shelter where I volunteer, they feel they have to be honest with would-be adopters and tell them if a cat has a problem with using litter and because they are a no-kill facility, they now have another cat that will live what is left of it's entire life at the shelter. I find this very sad and all because of 2 people that should never have gotten an animal IMO.
I'm not saying don't be honest, but I am saying that not all declawed cats have a litter box problem. So making blanket statements doesn't help. Obviously, if the cat has a problem adopters should be made aware. But the shelter I worked at did not adopt out cats with behavior problems. Cats who didn't use the box were not adopted out. We did our best to figure out if it was behavioral or a health issue. The health issue cats usually were fine after treatment for a bladder infection.
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