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Should You Declaw Your Cat?

Most cat experts will say definitely not. Declawing is a cruel and unnecessary procedure.

Declawing (onychectomy) is more than just removing the claws. The procedure (which is extremely painful) involves amputating part of the toe.

After declawing a cat will have very sore, painful, and possibly swollen paws for up to two weeks. Her paws will have to be wrapped for several days following surgery. Declawing using laser surgery means a less painful recovery, but not all vets are skilled in the techniques of laser surgery.

You will have to use shredded newspaper in her litter box as regular kitty litter will irritate her paws and might even cause an infection. There have been some reports of cats not using their litter box even after their paws are healed. This is thought to be because they associate the pain in their paws with digging in the litter box.

Your cat call not be able to go outside. She has no way of defending herself against other cats or dogs, nor can she climb a tree to escape danger. Also without her claws to defend herself, she may turn to biting to defend herself. Cat bites are more serious than scratches.

One option to declawing is flexor tendonectomy. With this the vet will cut the tendons that she uses to extend her claws, making her claws retracted permanently. The down side of this is that you will have to trim your cat's claws every week or two or they will become ingrown.

If the only reason you want to declaw your cat is so she doesn't claw the furniture, there are methods to teach your cat to use a scratching post.

If you are still bound and determined to have a declawed cat, get one that has already been declawed. Check with the local animal shelters. If they don't have any declawed cats at the moment, tell them you are interested in getting one and ask them to let you know when one comes available. Also put the word out to local vets you are looking for a declawed cat.

Barb Jensen lives in upstate New York with her two cats.

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