WARNING: The following article contains graphic imagery. Reader discretion is advised.
Declawing is a surgical procedure, also called onychectomy, in which the feline’s toes are amputated at the last joint.
Most cat moms & dads don’t realize that a section of the bone—not just the nail—is amputated. Declaw surgery is usually performed when the feline is young as to thwart a habit of scratching furniture, but is still performed at any age.
While some felines will have immediate complications from the surgery, it could range from just a few months to a couple of years before any significant (or visual/superficial) damages of declawing become obvious – cats are pretty great at hiding pain. If a cat is showing signs of being in pain, then it must be very very bad for the kitty.
Declawing may result in permanent lameness, arthritis, and other long-term complications: Depression, Aggressions, and loss of normal motor functions.
Cats typically walk with their toes holding the weight of their bodies; each step is cushioned and supported by the pads under the toe – the ones that look like little teddy bears.
Declawed cats experience extreme pain while supporting their body weight when standing or walking. This is because the tendon, which is attached to the retained segment(s) of the third phalanx (toe bone) pulls that bit of bone under the foot.
The displaced bone fragment produces a painful “rock-in-the-shoe” sensation when they try to stand, walk, play or even use the litter box.
To compensate for the pain in their tender paws, cats will attempt to shift their weight farther back on their feet, in effect walking on their “wrists.”
The stresses caused by the abnormal posture and movement, will more than likely produce arthritis in the legs, which could also lead to the kitty becoming more crippled and intensifying the poor kitties suffering.
Try and imagine walking on shards of glass embedded under the skin of your foot and having to just live that way.
If all that wasn’t enough for the kitty to endure, the bone fragments may contain tiny remnants of nail-forming tissue that may continue to grow deep within the foot, causing infections.
The pad is often displaced backwards, toward the rear of the foot, allowing the weight of the cat’s body to push the end of the second toe bone, through the thinned tissue on the underside of the foot.
These complications may occur in combination, inevitability resulting in great pain for the feline to stand or walk.
In more severe and particularly heartbreaking cases, the mutilation from a declaw surgery may cause so much tenderness or pain that the feline can move only by walking on its “elbows.”
These are just the physical complications that can come from your kitty being declawed.
After losing their nails, and suffering so much pain, your kitty will start to become depressed and may lash out – bitting is a typical outcome since they no longer have their nails to relieve stress or defend themselves.
Countless declawed kitties are surrendered to shelters or put to sleep because the corrective surgery is too expensive or the owner just didn’t catch on to why their once energetic furrball’s behavior changed.
Veterinarian’s know the ramifications of declawing, but some still do the procedure. They tell you the benefits of having the surgery done: Furniture intact, no scratching, etc. But they always leave out the inevitable dark side of the procedure.
If you’re looking to have your kitty declawed for the sake of saving furniture, then maybe having a cat isn’t a right fit for you – no animal should have to live in pain so your living room could look pretty.
The reality is, all cats scratch, play and run around – it’s not fair for you to mutilate them to fit your home decor needs.
If you’ve declawed your felines in the past – you’re in for a future of standing by your kitties side while they fall apart and live in pain. What’s done is done. All you can do now is never let it happen again, and educate your family and friends on what you learned today.
If you want more information on the subject, watch a documentary titled The Paw Project – it’s streaming on iTunes, or AmazonPrime Video. It’s documentary is heartbreaking on what happens to the kitties that go through being declawed, but it’s the cold hard truth.