New Study Results Say "Don't Declaw Your Cat" (But You Already Knew That, Right?)
Cat owners and cat lovers alike should know that declawing your cat is bad news, but in case you needed a reminder (or an intro!), the results of a new study shows declawing leads to long term problems for your cat.
I'm not going to go too deep into the specifics, but if you think that declawing your cat to save your furniture is going to make your life easier, think again. Declawing is not just "trimming the nails" of a cat - declawing is severing actual bones (the top toe bone, which contains the nail). It's the same as if you were to have the tips of your fingers surgically removed. Many people don't realize this and believe declawing to be a harmless procedure. This study only reconfirms what anti-declaw activists have been voicing for years.
Here is the nitty gritty of the study:
The study looked at 274 cats, 50% of which were declawed. They looked at both domestic cats and shelter cats. They physically examined the cats and looked at their two previous years of health history. All of the declawed cats' paws were x-rayed for abnormalities and bone fragments (left from an incorrect declaw surgery). You can read the full scientific paper here, but we'll break down the main results for you.
Due to the procedure, the declawed cats suffered significantly higher levels of:
- Back pain due to the remaining bone fragments causing pain in the paws, leading to them adopt a new, unnatural gait
- Periuria, or urinating in inappropriate places because their litter hurts their paws - so they choose a softer material such as carpet, clothing, or a location outside of the box like a litter mat
- Aggression and biting - without the use of their claws, a cat's only defense becomes their teeth
- Barbering - licking or overgrooming the paws
The study found that declawed cats were seven times more likely to pee in inappropriate places, four times more likely to bite people, and both aggression and barbering was three times more likely.
Aside from being extremely painful for your cat (and in many cases the pain becomes chronic, affecting them for the rest of their lives), declawing is creating a whole new set of behavioral problems which in turn leads to some pet owners taking cats back to the shelter.
Declawing is also illegal in most other developed countries - but not in the US or Canada. So what to do instead? Here is a helpful article from our pals Dezi and Roo: 3 Ways to Get Your Cat Scratching the Right Things.
To learn more about declawing and its effects, The Paw Project is a fantastic resource with loads of info and ways for you to get involved.
And lastly, if you are that concerned about your furniture, think about adopting an already declawed cat from a shelter.