As is the case with most anything, there are both pros and cons to feline ownership. Obviously when we adopt a cat and bring him into our home and family, we are essentially admitting that we feel the pros far outweigh the cons. However, this does not mean that we are willing to entirely ignore all the cons, and in fact in many cases we still try to resolve them. One such resolution that some cat owners consider is declawing.
While we are perfectly willing to bring our feline companions into our homes and lives, we are not willing to have them shred our furniture or limit our ability to have the furniture we truly desire. Declawing your cat may seem like an “easy” solution, but there are many things to consider before choosing this particular route.
First of all, declawing a cat is a major surgical procedure that involves the amputation of a cat’s front toes. This means that in choosing to declaw one’s cat, one is deliberately choosing to subject their cat to a painful surgery that is far from normal or natural. When considering the destruction a cat may be wreaking on one’s furniture, it is important to consider whether amputating the first bones on all their toes is really the proper answer. Therefore, when considering this procedure, it is important to first consider each of the following points:
- Is declawing your cat the only way you will be able to keep your cat? If your cat is so entirely destructive with their claws, either on furniture or on people’s bodies, that you will not be able to keep them unless you declaw them, this may be a valid reason to consider the procedure.
- Is your cat older than one year? The older and heavier your cat is, the more painful and dangerous it is for them to be declawed. They may suffer from painful infections or even simply phantom pains that may not have occurred when they were younger.
- Are you prepared for the pain your cat will experience? Declawing is surgical amputation, and therefore very painful. Most cat owners balk at the idea of subjecting their feline companion to this sort of pain even if it is well justified and necessary, let alone if it’s elective.
- Have you tried other options? If your kitty has a problem clawing furniture, or even legs, there are other options to consider prior to declawing, including using claw coverings, furniture shields, water spray bottles, a variety of scratching posts and toys and even finding the cat another home.
- Are you financially prepared for the entire procedure? Especially in the case of older and heavier cats, most veterinarians require that a cat remain in hospital for several days to ensure they receive proper pain relief and follow-up care after declawing. The veterinarian may use nerve blocks, opiate patches, opiate injections and anti-inflammatory drugs in order to keep your cat as comfortable as possible, which means that the entire procedure and aftercare protocol can cost up to six hundred dollars.
- Are you prepared to provide the thorough follow-up care? Kittens will have to be restricted from jumping and climbing, and adults will have to be confined to a cage after they return home from a declawing procedure.
- Are you willing to make your cat an indoor cat every day for the rest of their life? A declawed cat absolutely must remain indoors for the entire rest of their life. For those cat owners who have enjoyed letting their cat outside occasionally, this can be a major adjustment.
If you feel that declawing is the best option for your cat, it is important to find a veterinarian who is not only willing to perform the procedure, but who is well-experienced in performing it. They will usually want to make sure you truly understand what you are getting into, so being well-informed beforehand is very helpful.