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To Declaw Or Not To Declaw? That Is The Question.

Until the last couple of years there wasn't much research on the subject so most people just weren't aware or told of the common problems that come along with declawing your feline friends but lately it has become a hot topic and luckily more and more people are coming to realize that this barbaric surgery just isn't worth it.

Pros of declawing your cat
Protection of your furniture/curtains/etc
Not having your cat scratch you accidentally or in self-defense.

That's it.  And here is the thing:  there are all kinds of ways to remedy both of these situations so that you don't need to mutilate someone's digits.

How to protect your furniture/etc from the claws of cats
-Buy cat scratching posts and introduce them to your new cat each time they are about to use the corner of your couch as a nail grinding session.  Never be mean to your cat for doing what nature tells it to do.  Don't yell.  Teach them like you would want someone to teach you.  At the most you could use a squirt bottle and gently squirt when they go to scratch something that you don't want them scratching
-Double sided tape on things that you don't want your cat putting their paws on including counter tops, etc - they will learn to avoid those areas
-Supervision
-Plastic Nail Tips - you can usually find these at pet supply stores but be forewarned that these don't work for everyone and have been known to pop off but some of the better brands can last up to 6 weeks
-Herbal spray deterrents such as "No Scratch" that you spray on scratch prone areas

How to prevent cat scratches to humans
The obvious answer is to obviously not be rough or mean to your cats but the not so obvious answer is that when spending time with cats, your hands should only be used for affection and not for play time.  If you use your hands to play with your cats they will scratch them, not to be mean but that is how they "latch" on to their play things and prey.  You should be using string toys or something comparable to play with and your hands should be used for affection only.  This teaches your cat that hands are to be treated gently because they do the same.

Sounds so easy, right?!  It is.  So you may be wondering, Why have so many people declawed their cats then?  Well not so long ago, pet owners weren't told what it takes to declaw a cat and the things that can occur afterwards.  Veterinarians were more than willing to do the procedure because it was money in their pocket.  Word of mouth from people who had not yet seen or noticed the side effects of declawing was the main component.  

It is easy to understand why so many cats have been declawed.  We were told all the positive things and none of the negative.

Presently however, there are countries that have actually banned the declawing of cats and in areas that have not yet done so there are many veterinarians who no longer offer declawing as an option.

Why are people speaking out about declawing now?

To put it in terms that you can picture for yourself and place yourself in the cat's ummm...shoes:  If performed on a human being, declawing would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle. A third procedure is the tendonectomy, in which the tendon that controls the claw in each toe is severed. The cat keeps his claws, but can't control them or extend them to scratch.  So look at your hands.  Now imagine someone taking an instrument and cutting your finger down by a third.  This is not an elective procedure that you wanted for yourself.  This is a procedure someone is doing to you to protect the corner of their sofa.  Now how do you feel?  Scared, mad, wondering why someone would do that to you.  

I don't think that people who declaw their pets are bad people, I think that they are uninformed.  I have had so many people ask me if I think they should get their new kittens declawed and when I explain the procedure and what it could cause down the line, they tend to change their mind.

Some other reasons to not declaw
-Clawing or scratching things is an important and natural behavior.  Cats do not do this to be mean to you, it is in their nature.
-Cats need to be able to defend themselves.  I hear all the time, "Oh, well my ccats are indoor only"  And then those same people unfortunately left the door open for too long and the cat skidaddled out the door out of curiosity.  And now this cat has no way to defend itself or climb trees to get away from those that may cause it harm.  
-Declawed cats can turn aggressive.  They have more of a tendency to bite because they don't have claws.  A cat's mouth is full of bacteria (ever notice how they are constantly cleaning themself?) and if that bite is deep enough you are going to the hospital guaranteed.
-Pain continues after the surgery.  Cats can be very stoic and you may not even notice they are in pain.  It isn't like they can just look up at you and say, "Hi...my feet are killing me".  Aside from this, a lot of cats get arthritis in their paws because of this procedure.  Do you have arthritis in your back?  I do.  I can just imagine how much more it would suck if it were in my feet.
-Due to the graininess and texture of cat litter, declawed cats are more likely to go outside the litter box.  Many people think the cat is just being mean or is mad at them for some reason.  This is not how cats work.  If your cat is going outside the box there are many health related reasons (declawing being one of them) and you need to get them checked out by their vet.  
-Declawed cats have to relearn how to walk.  How sad is that?  So imagine someone cut your toes off.  Your balance is all over the place.  You need to relearn to walk...for a couch.

So after all this the short answer:  No, you should never declaw your cats.
If you still decide to declaw your cats or if you adopt a cat that has already been declawed please don't think that when the above mentioned things start happening it is because your feline friend all of a sudden dislikes you.  Be gentle and be patient, they didn't ask for this.


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