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Thursday, September 18

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Disclaimer: We understand that declawing is a very sensitive, emotionally-charged issue. Since 75% of our members live in countries where declawing is legal, we feel it is important to provide information from both sides. We hope that by publishing these editorials, you can make the decision that is right for you.

The following editorials do not necessarily reflect the views of LLC.

Submitted By: Pet Owner
I do not believe in declawing. I think it is painful, cruel and (except in very extreme circumstances) not warranted. There are web sites which show, albeit very graphically, the declawing procedure and compare it to cutting off one's fingers at the first knuckle.

Unfortunately, early on with my first cat, my vet suggested I have her declawed. I was very young and did not know any better. Today, my one girl still winces in pain and cries when she jumps down on her feet. My other two girls were not declawed and they are no problem at all. They do not claw us, as this can be taught early on also. They use their scratching posts. Usually, if you get your kitten a good scratching post, she will accommodate you by using it.

When playing with your cat, if she uses her claws, correct her immediately. If you see her try to use the furniture, a stern "No" and a spritz of water will help her remember, "Oh yeah, Mom doesn't like me to do that!" Always play with her with a toy or feather, never let her think your hands are a toy.

If health circumstances of the owners (diabetes, hemophilia, etc.) call for declawing, that may be the only valid reason to have a cat declawed, and I put an emphasis on "may be." Today, you can find products on the market, such as Soft Claws, that fit over your kitten's claws to keep your baby from scratching items you don't want her to. Your kitten needs to be spayed/neutered for obvious reasons; there are health benefits. No one wants to see any unnecessary pain brought to these beautiful, trusting, wonderful, companions God has given to us.

Submitted By: Vet Technician
Declawing is a personal and permanent decision. Often times it is a requirement, such as some apartments, family health issues, or simply a spouse that will not tolerate the pet unless it is declawed. The choice for the owner then becomes either to declaw or give up a cherished and loved pet.

If the decision to declaw has been made, then it should be done as young as possible. Cats over 2 years old, may take a little longer to heal and experience a little more discomfort. In all cases, it should be done under general anesthesia by a competent and well-practiced veterinarian. It should be done correctly with either a blade or laser, and the entire bone should be removed. Use of the "nail clipper" method maybe faster, but this indeed can and often does lead to complications, such as deformed nail regrowth, arthritis and abcesses. If done correctly, the entire bone and nail should be removed, not just "cut through." There is very little bleeding. Rather than sutures, many vets use a skin-bond glue, which totally seals the tiny wound. The wound for each toe is very small. Some cats go home bandaged, some cats go home with no bandages. (There are diffent policies for different vets.)

In my personal observations (my own cats and cats of clients), young cats, declawed on front feet only, usually exhibit no more, and often less, pain or discomfort than a spay. Many vets do keep declaws over for two nights post surgery. This is done mainly to keep the cats confined and restrain them from running and jumping too soon after surgery and breaking open the wounds. All four feet should not be done if it can be avoided. (Usually, this does seem to be more uncomfortable for them.) In the many cats I have had declawed over the years, none has exhibited any of the behavioral problems often blamed on declawing. All of them continued to use the litterbox.

In the end, it should be a decision that is thought out by the owner, with all the pros and cons weighed against each other. Then the choice can be made confidently and without guilt. If other methods or solutions can be used, such as soft nail caps or scratching posts, then these should be utilized. Declaw does NOT equate with cruelty. As for protection, outside cats should not be declawed.