The ASPCA reports that 1.4 million cats are euthanized in shelters every year and half of which are a result of behavioral problems. The top three behavioral reasons for surrender of a cat to a shelter are inappropriate elimination (37-43%), aggression (10-18%), and inappropriate scratching (12%).
Let’s face it; scratching is a normal behavior for cats. Scratching behavior involves cats marking by depositing scent from special glands on the cat’s paws into his or her territory and removes the translucent covering, or sheath, from the claws. Because scratching is an innate behavior like grooming or burying, some cats may need to be taught to scratch on more appropriate objects like scratching posts. Additional solutions include, regular nail trims, nail caps, and and positive reinforcement training. *Alternatives to declaw resource https://catvets.com/public/PDFs/ClientBrochures/AlternativesDeclawing-WebView.pdf
One solution to scratching behavior is a painful and outdated procedure called, declawing.
FredSPCA Community Medical Center Veterinarian, Dr.Jones explains that “declawing is not just the removal of claws as the name would imply. It is actually the amputation of the last bone on each of the toes, known as P3. Often times, the entirety of P3 is not removed. This is similar to walking around with a sharp pebble in your shoe and results in chronic pain and changes in the way cats walk.”
Meet FredSPCA declaw survivor, Patches. Upon arriving at the FredSPCA, Patches appeared painful when walking so Dr.Jones ordered radiographs of her declawed paws.
“The first two radiographs are of Patches paws. The radiograph on the right shows a normal, healthy cat. You can see that the tips of her toes have become retracted over time. This occurs over time after a declaw procedure.
The illustration to the right shows how declawing the conformation of a cat’s toes over time. This causes Patches to have an abnormal gait and she holds her weight in a way that can cause her pain.”
The American Association of Feline Practitioners reports “There are inherent risks and complications with declawing that increase with age such as acute pain, infection, nerve trauma, as well as long term complications like lameness, behavioral problems, and chronic neuropathic pain.”
Many owners don’t realize that declawing is actually an amputation that can result in serious, lifelong complications. In recent years, there has been a push to share new information with the general public and create legislation banning the procedure. Declawing is currently banned in several countries, including England, Italy, France, and Germany. While it is still common in the United States, declawing is prohibited in the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Culver City, West Hollywood and Burbank.
Let’s accept our cats for who they are by being a part of the movement to help share life-saving tips and tools with the people who love them.