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To Declaw or Not to Declaw

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To Declaw or Not to Declaw

Going back to the prehistoric days, cats and their ancestors have used their claws as a way of protection, hunting and marking territory. Their claws are a way to show their dominance and display confidence. When it comes to modern day discussions of declawing, it’s important to remember that those basic instincts in a cat’s nature are still there and removing those tools can cause behavioral and medical issues.

It is a difficult but common topic of discussion that the New Hampshire SPCA adoption counselors deal with on a regular basis. People wondering if their furniture will be destroyed by a cat’s bad habit or just general safety around children are some reasons one may consider declawing their cat. In reality, declawing can cause more behavioral issues or aggressive behavior. This topic is one that our staff Veterinarian, Dr. Steve Gentilella has dealt with many times before. Here are some negative components of declawing, explained by Dr. Gentilella.

Medical Complications

There is, for the most part, no medical reason to declaw a cat; it is really only a convenience procedure. Declawing is illegal in several places including Australia, EU and the UK. Now what exactly is declawing and what does it entail? It involves cutting “off the third phalanx (last bone) in all ten digits on the front paws” says Dr. Gentilella. This can lead to complications such as “pain, infection and tissue necrosis (tissue death)” and long term complications like “behavior change and back pain as the cat no longer bears weight in the same way it would if it still had the entire structure of its toes.”

Behavioral Issues

When a cat no longer has the ability to use their claws to mark territory, protect itself and maneuver around, different behavioral issues can arise. As the New Hampshire SPCA Adoption Counselors explain to future adopters, “A cat’s claws are more than just a physical attribute to them; it’s linked with their psyche too. Without that ability they will no longer feel confident.” Issues such as biting can arise if a cat feels threatened and litter box neglect can begin to take place due to pain in the paws. Declawing is not the answer to a cat inappropriately scratching furniture as there are different ways to try and defer your cat from that couch you just bought. As our Adoption Counselors say, “there are other ways to prevent a cat from scratching things inappropriately. It may take a while to pinpoint what works but it’s not worth ruining the relationship you have you with your cat and completely changing who they are.”

The New Hampshire SPCA does offer $10 nail trimmings and can suggest different toys such as scratching posts and Soft Paws to help your cat defer from scratching furniture.

Check out all of the wonderful cats available for adoption here

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