The Veterinary Association in Newfound and Labrador has banned the practice of cat declawing. By doing so, it has joined its counterparts in three other Canadian provinces, which would be British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. On the whole, the measure received widespread support within the province, which should come as welcome news for those who are concerned about cat welfare.
Why Is Declawing So Bad Anyways?
Generally speaking, cat owners get their cats declawed because of excessive scratching. After all, no claws mean no clawing, thus eliminating a serious problem at the source. However, cat owners should know that declawing is a much more invasive procedure than it sounds.
In short, declawing isn’t limited to the cat’s claws. Instead, the procedure removes not just the claws but also the pieces of bone from which the claws grow. As a result, it is no wonder that there are some organizations out there that have compared the procedure to removing a human’s fingertips. There are some declawing methods that do less damage to the soft tissues in a cat’s pads than others, thus speeding up the healing process. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the cat is still getting a section of their toes amputated for the sake of convenience.
On top of this, it should be mentioned that there are lasting consequences for the cat. There are studies that suggest that a declawed cat is much more prone to a number of problematic behaviors such as biting, aggression, excessive grooming, and urinating in inappropriate places, all of which suggest that they experience chronic pain because of the removal of their claws. Even worse, declawing literally forces cats to relearn how to walk, thus increasing the chances of back problems as well as chronic pain in their paws because of their unnatural gait. Technically, further studies are needed to prove beyond doubt that declawing is what resulted in these issues, but there is definitely a strong correlation between the two issues.
Based on this, it is clear that declawing isn’t something that should happen unless there are very, very good reasons for the procedure. For example, there are some cases in which a cat’s nail bed can become cancerous, meaning that the region must be removed to prevent it from spreading throughout the rest of the cat. Likewise, there are some people who suggest declawing when cat owners have some kind of medical problem that makes it extremely dangerous for them to risk getting infected by a cat’s scratching, but this is disputed by others who believe that the increased chance of problematic behaviors actually makes said threat worse rather than better because it is much easier for cats to spread bacteria through bites and their litter boxes than their scratches. Whatever the case, declawing isn’t a good choice for either the cat’s wellbeing or the cat owner’s wellbeing under most circumstances, seeing as how it increases the chances of other problematic behaviors in exchange for removing one. Something that is particularly true because there are alternatives for declawing.
One excellent example would be training cats to scratch scratching posts and other cat accessories designed for said purpose. This tends to be work best on kittens, but it can work on other cats at other ages as well. Another excellent example would be putting vinyl covers on the cat’s claws, which are soft enough to minimize damage even if the cat persists with their scratching. There is a complication in that vinyl covers last for about a month’s time before they have to be replaced, but surely that is a better approach than amputating a part of a cat’s toes.
Currently, declawing is already considered a controversial practice at best in much of the developed world. For example, a lot of European countries forbid the practice. Likewise, Australia has prohibited surgical alterations to animals that aren’t performed for the wellbeing of the animal, though declawing was never common there to begin with. Declawing is still widespread in both Canada and the United States. However, more and more jurisdictions have been eyeing the issue in recent times, so it isn’t unimaginable to think of a time when declawing will be performed less and less for the sake of a cat owner’s convenience.