There is no gentle way to express it as it is the truth: Declaw is an amputation. Regardless of what type of technique is used (scalpel, clipper or laser), the end result is the same. It is what the world renowned expert in stealing and Paw pain management project leader, Dr. Robin Downing, who calls a cat toe amputation. And she says it’s always choice. “No cat ever needs all toes amputated.”
Story of stealing
As more and more cats were kept indoors (in connection with the invention of the cat litter), the idea of onychectomy was first introduced by a Chicago veterinarian in 1952 in a letter to the editor in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. It was just an idea, there was no study on short-term or long-term effects. Still it started.
Finally, when studies of the effects of Declaw were conducted in the 1970s to early 90s, there was a general consensus that cats did not experience long-term pain. Also, stealing seemed like a viable option for cat parents so they wouldn’t give up their cats because the sofa was torn apart.
“It turns out that these studies were for the most part all wrong,” says Dr. Margie Scherk, Editor of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery and Director of the Paw Project British Columbia. It turns out that scratched cats are more likely to give up because of aggression, often caused by pain and / or accidents outside the litter box.
Regarding concerns about the immunocompromised individuals, thin-skinned seniors, and other individuals with special needs demanding cat scraping, Dr. Scherk suggests that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) disagree, noting that scratched cats are more likely to bite, which is often more problematic than getting scratched.
The case against stealing
Dr. Downing, Advisor to the Paw Project and Director of Pain Management, said, “Around the year 2000 studies began to tell a very different story. For example, we had better tools for assessing pain. One study after another shows all kinds of long-term effects from Declaw. Once you know something, you can’t know it anymore. Gradually people pay attention to it. (Note: The Paw Project is a nonprofit that supports education and advocacy regarding decryption.)
Dr. Downing rattles off just a few of the medical problems that we now understand are directly related to the theft.
“Pain after the amputation,” she says. “I studied human literature extensively. Up to two-thirds of people who have had an amputation say they have dealt with neuropathic pain known as post-amputation pain or phantom pain. It is real. We are also changing the biomechanics of the front feet, 60% of the body weight should go here – we adjust the rest of the gait to change. I am certified by the American College of Sports Medicine and Rehab. I loved the idea of seeing how the animals move. Changing this movement causes problems later in life. “
Join the prohibited car
Increasingly, communities across the country have banned stealing, and there is a long list of others in the queue. Large cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles are among the many areas in California where stealing is prohibited. In 2017, Denver, Colorado said “no more” to the practice of stealing cats, and last December St. Louis, Missouri was added to the list.
A little over a year ago, New York State was the first state to ban the practice. Linda Rosenthal, a member of the New York Congregation whose anti-Declaw bill was passed in New York, says, “I had to do something. I was amazed at the backlash from organized veterinary medicine (New York State Veterinary Association). But clearly, stealing is not beneficial to cats – it’s a barbaric act that had to stop. “
In January 2020, an anti-declaw bill passed the committee’s first hurdle in Florida, and an anti-declaw bill was introduced in Arizona by Amish Shah, MD, the representative of the US state of Arizona. Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Jersey are among the states that may support bans. Had it not been for the significant distraction of the pandemic, other states could have followed New York and banned it by now.
Of course, stealing has been banned in a number of countries for years, including Australia, Belgium, Brazil, England, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, as well as several Canadian provinces.
Where organizations stand
Today, the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have pretty strong anti-declawing advocates and instead support education and behavior change first.
Recently, very strong anti-declaw statements came from the BluePearl veterinary clinics with 90 clinics, around 800 VCA veterinary clinics, and over 1,000 Banfield veterinary clinics. “We studied this for three years and based our decision solely on the science and welfare of cats,” says Dr. Molly McAllister, Chief Medical Officer at Banfield. She says Banfields’ approximately 6,500 veterinarians were both assisted and relieved by the position. “I think people want the best for their cats and maybe they don’t know,” she adds.
Mostly, veterinary technicians and students are against descratching and don’t even learn how to do it
Do it. If this trend continues, at some point nobody will know how to scratch.
The good news is that there are a number of affordable, humane ways to keep yourself, your family, friends, and valuable furniture safe from scratches.
Cat nails can be temporarily covered with products like Soft Paws, which is a soft, non-toxic cap that is placed on the nails. You can regularly trim your cat’s nails as part of your regular weekly grooming routine to make the nails a little less sharp. Also, give your cat enough scratching posts and pads to use your cat’s scratches and pass them on to them. Use lots of praise, treats, and some rubbed catnip on the post to reinforce the appropriate scratching. Cover areas where you don’t want your cat to scratch with aluminum foil, tape, or the smell of citrus fruit.
A pheromone product from CEVA called Feliscratch, which is used to effectively guide cats onto scratching posts, is expected to be withdrawn from the market this year. However, the CEVA Feliway Classic can be used as a simple solution for cat parents instead.
“We have other tools, including behavioral drugs, that work,” adds Dr. Scherk added. “I believe the tide is changing in terms of decoding within the profession and also among the public. I think the future for cats is changing in a good way. “
Featured photo: epantha | Getty Images
Read on: The right cat scratching post for every stage of life