|Decision to Declaw
If I never did a declaw again it'd be fine. However, lots of folks won't have a cat unless they can declaw it. So, I think we might mess it up if we didn't declaw for folks - when they outlawed it in California they got to put a bunch more cats to sleep as homeless, since more than half the prospective public wouldn't adopt a cat if they had to carry it over the mountain to Nevada for declaw. (Which many still do)
Believe it or not, after reading that I do advocate and perform declaws, some browsers have sent me notes wishing ferociously that I was dead, and also that they were planning to stop by my office and perform a declaw on me, and my children, while we were awake. One of the persons who wrote me such a note was a member in good standing with PETA, the organization that rallied behind, and wholly exalted, the shooting death of a University of Tennessee veterinary school dean. I don't think much at all of people who are in the PETA organization because the actions of some of them, make the rest look irrational and clownlike.
Every cat owner has an opinion on de-clawing. Millions of cat-owners have elected this procedure for their pet, while probably just as many have not. I perform this surgery with a very high degree of success, but there are alternatives to the de-claw procedure which also curb cat-destructive-behavior. These can be explained to you by myself or one of my technicians
The de-claw procedure is performed under anesthesia and involves the removal of the nail and the "ungual-bed" from which the nail grows. In almost all cases, I bandage the feet and keep the pet under observation for 48 hrs to allow healing.
Declawing is painful. No one with any common sense would try to deny that. But with proper anesthesia, and prudent management after the surgery, many people are amazed to see that the pain does not seem to be significant. Animals return to normal ambulation almost immediately. Cats do not vocalize plaintively or go off feed. They accept attention and petting as if nothing had happened.
Granted, folks that disapprove of de-clawing certainly have valid points. However, universal claims that it is psychologically damaging are unfounded. Many veterinarians (and cat owners) are in agreement that if de-clawing is performed on young animals, ideally under one year of age, there are almost no instances of maladaptive behavior post-operatively. One note of caution is in order, however: If performed on older cats (2+ years), the result in some cases may be inappropriate elimination, spraying, destructive biting, or some other ill-mannered response.
Reasons to de-claw a cat are numerous: If you are concerned about destructiveness, or if you prefer not to be scratched during cat-bathing, you might be well-advised to have this done in the young cat.
Two good reasons not to de-claw would be if the cat is already a mature adult, or if the animal spends very much time outside.
An alternative to de-clawing, called "Flexor Tendon Tenotomy" involves the severing of the tendons that extend the claws. Also done under anesthesia, the procedure yields good results and spares the claws. However, because the cat is forever-after unable to hone its own claws, your regular clipping of the claws becomes of paramount importance. Arthritis in the digits is also not uncommon because the digits can no longer be flexed and they may become stiff.
De-clawed cats seem especially able to sense and avoid trouble (fights and attacks) when they are left outside either intentionally or accidentally. They can also climb trees without front claws, simply by hugging smaller trees and shimmying up with the hind-claws.
Please call with any questions. Please make a decision that suits your needs, and your cat's best interests as well.
One additional note: Every single cat that pees in the owners house (that I have ever seen) was declawed. However, not every declawed cat ends up peeing in your house.