General Information (onychectomy)
Scratching with the front claws is normal, instinctive behavior
for cats. The purpose of this activity is to remove old, worn
fragments of nails. Though scratching is normal for cats, this
behavior can be destructive and costly in the home and the bond between the owner and the cat may be permanently stressed. Also, some cats are aggressive to others and children and run the risk of injuring people or transmitting viruses. It should be said that declawing should be the last option for a pet owner since it is not just like trimming a nail. It is the amputation of the last joint of the cat's paws.
This article is not to deal with the morals of the decision but the candidacy, medical procedure and aftercare of a declawed cat. If you do choose to proceed it is important that you understand the whole procedure and how to care for your cat following surgery. Remember, you must take responsibility for your cat's protection and your decision. It is a decision that should not be undertaken lightly but well thought out.
It is a must that a declawed cat be confined indoors, since the claws are its primary means of defense. Many times a veterinarian will have to deal with severe injuries to a declawed cat that "just slipped out" and got attacked by a dog because they will, based on individual personality, choose either to fight or run- with or without claws.
Declawing (onychectomy) is performed under general anesthesia and
consists of surgical removal of the nail bed (basically the last joint). Kittens should be over 3-4 months old. The feet are usually
bandaged, and the cat may be hospitalized briefly. After the
bandages are removed, your pet will usually be able to walk, though
tenderness may be evident for a few days. Some cats especially older ones will require more time. It should be known that some cats cannot psychologically deal with the procedure although incidents are rare since cats by nature are resilent.
Kittens heal more quickly and hospitalization is usually overnight but cats over 8 mos of age may require 2-3 days of hospitalization increasing the veterinary fee considerably. Also this procedure is not advised for older cats since, as said before, cats claws are attached to the last joint therefore the whole last joint is removed.
1. Exercise: Restricting exercise is difficult. However, you
should prevent your cat from jumping as much as possible for the
first 5 days.
2. Bleeding: More than occasionally a cat breaks open one of the small
scabs where the nailbed was removed. A few drops of blood followed by
rapid cessation of bleeding is normal this may appear like a great amount especially if the cat shakes his paws about and the blood spreds. Confining him in a dark room in a pet carrier usually stops the blood flow after 20 minutes. Call the doctor if bleeding
3. It is usually recommended that normal clay or sand litter be replaced by stripped newspaper for 7 days so not to embed in wound. Some cats may not like the transition and may seek an alternate spot. This is usually temporary until the normal litter can be used again.
Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur:
* Your cat's feet appear swollen or bleed frequently.
* Your pet is reluctant to walk at all even after 24 hrs.
* There is a change in your cat's general health or behavior.
You alone must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of declawing a cat but if it is a kitten don't take to long to make your decision -the earlier the better(between 3-5 mos old is usually recommended).
If you have time or are still debating, try a scratching post, it may just do the trick and as you know cats, different types may appeal to different cats. Also some veterinarians offer a plastic covering over the nails. This will have to be redone though when the nails grow out. And as always some cats will keep them on and some simply hate them and pick them off. Passive cats are best suitted for this procedure.
Try not judge people for decisions made as long as they were thought out and without malice or cruelity involved. There was a man who loved his cat dearly and the cat would play fight him. Unfortunately, this man had AIDS and risked serious infection with the slightest scratch. It was an older cat and being mean spiritted was not a candidate for adoption. He chose to declaw the cat and the cat recovered well and he continued to play fight with his owner.
I personally do not have any declawed cats nor believe in it but, there are many incidents similar to the one above or have the same mental stress involved that I have wrestle with what is right for the owner and the cat. It is only those who take it callously that I question.
Remember, declawing is not a natural nor health saving process, though it may be the only way for you and your pet. And it is harder on the cat.
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