DETROIT – “What are the potential risks of declawing cats? I know it is banned in some countries.”
Declawing is the amputation of the nail and last part of the bone of the cat’s toe.
This is equivalent to removing your fingertip at the first joint.
Risks include complications with anesthesia, bleeding, infection, reaction to pain medications or certain materials used to close the incisions, nerve damage, potential regrowth of nails over time, and pain that may last long term, especially if effective pain control is not done during and after the procedure.
Scratching is a normal feline behavior. Cats scratch for exercise, to mark territory and to help keep their claws conditioned. Claws are important for defense and balance.
Many people think declawing is an automatic part of owning a cat, but this is not the case and other options should be explored. Scratching posts or mats made of cardboard, wood, sisal, and other materials are available. Offer both horizontal and vertical posts.
The posts should be long enough for your cat to stretch out comfortably. Several posts may be needed, especially in multiple cat households. Place the scratching post in an area where your cat spends most of her time.
Positive reinforcement will encourage your cat to use the appropriate scratching area.
Frequent nail trims to keep the tips of the nails blunt will help prevent damage to furniture. Soft nail caps are also available that can be placed over each nail as another alternative to painful declawing.