Daniel Lemire's blog

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Having your cat declawed means having its fingers amputated

There are many simple facts that totally escape me for years. For example, though I took biology in college and I knew that plants were made of carbon through photosynthesis, I only realized a few years ago that plants grow by absorbing CO2 from the air. I knew that mass had to be preserved, but I stupidly assumed that plants took the bulk of their mass from the soil. I should have realized right away that the assumption was false by thinking it through.

A few years ago, my wife told me what declawing means. I have spent much of my life assuming the veterinarian had some magic and painless way to remove just the claws of the cat. But once you start thinking it through, it makes no sense.

Many people have their cats “declawed” to protect their furniture. The procedure is actually called onychectomy and involves the amputation of the “fingers” of the car (the phalanges). It is banned as animal cruelty in 20 or so countries. The procedure appears to cause pain: “Regardless of the analgesic regimen, limb function was still significantly reduced 12 days after surgery, suggesting that long-term analgesic treatment should be considered for cats undergoing onychectomy.” (Romans et al. 2005).

We have non-surgical alternatives to declawing such as Soft Paws or regular claw trimming.

The argument in favour of onychectomy is that it is a relative benign surgical procedure that satisfies pet owners most of the time. Some veterinarians further justify the procedure by stating that without it, the owners would have the cat euthanized or would just abandon it. I know many cat lovers who have had their cats declawed. I am almost sure that, had I offered to amputate the fingers of their cats, they would have thought me cruel… We live in a complex world and even the best of us operate on very limited knowledge.