Declawing: the painful truth

Declawing cats can cause permanent harm.

Many people misunderstand declawing, thinking that it is a harmless, simple procedure to protect their furniture. In truth, it is a major amputation which can cause permanent physical and psychological harm to your cat. Declawing removes the last joint of the toe, and is comparable to removing a human’s finger at the first knuckle. 

Declawing can cause medical complications.

Every cat experiences a painful recovery period after declawing, but the unlucky ones also experience immediate complications—infection or necrosis—or chronic ones such as lifelong lameness, nerve damage, bone spurs, atypical claw regrowth, and back pain. Declawing changes the way a cat moves and uses his foot, which effectively makes him feel like he’s wearing ill-fitting shoes for the rest of his life. 

Declawing can cause behavioral problems.

Due to post-surgical pain while standing in the litter box, many declawed cats develop litter box aversion and unwanted elimination problems. Seeking comfort, a declawed cat may begin hiding his stools and urine in other places around the home. Declawed cats can also become fearful and defensive, biting out of fear if they feel powerless after removal of their natural protection. 

Scratching is a healthy, normal behavior. 

Kittens and grown cats can be encouraged to engage in this healthy physical and mental exercise in appropriate ways: an affordable cardboard scratching pad, a carpeted or twine-wrapped scratching post, or any of a number of similar purchased or homemade products can become your cat’s favorite spot for scratching, stress relief, and kitty yoga. Experiment to see what your cat likes best, then sweeten it with a pinch of catnip! With positive training methods, you can help your cat understand which surfaces are off limits. Our staff can point you toward training resources if you are struggling with inappropriate scratching in your home. 

The Humane Society of Skagit Valley does not place cats in homes where declawing is planned. 

Sometimes, declawed adult cats come to us and are made available for adoption. These cats must be kept as 100% indoor pets, as they have no natural defenses against predators and their ability to flee is compromised. 

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