Declawing used to be a routine practice for many cat owners, who would have the operation performed by a vet as soon as their cat began scratching. Without people fully understanding what the procedure entailed, cats were declawed by the millions across the United States.
However, as understanding of this surgery has evolved, so have thoughts about declawing. The operation is not just a nail trim, but rather a full amputation of the nail, nail bed and first knuckle of each cat "finger". The practice is illegal in many countries and even in certain cities within the United States. The Humane Society of the United States, PeTA and the ASPCA are all against this operation.
Declawing, also known as onychectomy robs an animal of its primary means of defense. Declawed animals may be at increased risk of injury or death, if attacked by other animals. They are deprived of their normal, instinctual behavioral impulses to use their claws to climb, exercise, and mark territory with the scent glands in their paws. There are also risks associated with the surgical procedure itself, through the use of general anesthesia and the possibility of complications such as include bleeding, infection, lameness, nerve damage, gangrene, extensive tissue damage, and even death.
Instead of declawing, many owners have learned that cat nails can easily be trimmed with human clippers and that "soft paws", rubber caps that cover the claws so that the animal cannot damage furniture, can be applied to ensure the cat is still able to maintain use of its nails. Despite this, it is still estimated that between 25% and 40% of all cats in American homes are declawed.
At the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, we are adamantly opposed to declawing and urge you to look at other options if considering having your cat declawed. If you've adopted a previously declawed cat, be sure to keep your cat indoors at all times as they have zero defense from predators and no method to climb a tree to escape if chased.
Visit Paw Project for more information.