Vet says declawing could be more harmful than helpful

National

(KOLR) — New York passed a law banning the removal of cats’ claws, making it the first state to do so.  

Supporters of the ban say a quarter or more of all domestic cats have been declawed.  

While some may think removing cats’ claws is just removing the nails, it’s actually more than that.  

“It’s a potentially unnecessary procedure,” Dr. Peggy Callow, a veterinarian with the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri, said. “With declawing, it’s not just simply trimming the nails. You are actually removing the first bone in a cat’s paw, so that the nail will never grow back.” 

Dr. Callow says many people wish to declaw their cats to save their furniture.  

“If you’re declawing just to protect your furniture, it’s usually not in the best interest of the cat versus if you have a cat that has, potentially has, cancer on the toe or an ingrown, if it’s a polydactyl with multiple toes and nails grow into the bed,” said Dr. Callow. “Those are medical reasons that we would recommend declawing but if it’s more for cosmetic purposes, if that’s not in the best interest of the cat, then veterinarians do not support that.” 

She compares the pain a cat experiences being declawed to cutting off a human’s first knuckle. 

“Sometimes you can also harm the nerves,” Dr. Callow said. “They may stop using the litter box and they may start biting. They were meant to have their claws. It’s a natural behavioral outlet.”  

She says declawing cats was the norm for many years.  

“It was something that was seen as routine,” said Dr. Callow.  

If you’re thinking about getting your cat’s claws removed, Dr. Callow suggests going with an alternative.  

“If you trim your cat’s nails routinely, like trim them once a week or every two weeks,” Dr. Callow said. “They’re less likely to damage people or furniture. 

“There’s also a product called Kitty Caps or Soft Paws and they’re little caps that you put on their nails and that prevents damage to people or furniture. It’s not a quick and easy procedure. Aggression is not going to be simply fixed by declawing.” 

While the Humane Society and Dr. Callow believe declawing isn’t right for the sake of cosmetic reasons, they also believe the government shouldn’t have a say in the matter.  

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