Unhumane procedure - Declawing Cats

Essay by Red_Riding_Hood November 2004

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Cats Come with Claws

Declawing is the amputation of a cat's claws at the first joint. Compared to humans declawing is the amputation of each finger at the first knuckle. It is a painful surgery with many possible complications. Tendonectomy, an alternative procedure exists, but has deficiencies. Declawing is ten excruciatingly painful amputations with only one purpose, human convenience. To declaw a cat is inhumane.

Cats are digitigrades; they walk on their toes. A cat's claw is the anatomic equal to the last bone or digit of the human finger or toe.

Onychectomy, the most common surgical procedure, is the amputation of the claw at the first toe bone joint. For the surgery, the cat is put under general anesthesia. To reduce blood flow and prevent excessive bleeding a tight tourniquet is placed on the cat's leg. Bleeding and pain from laser surgery are lessened if compared to the scalpel procedure.

During the laser procedure, the surgeon might use a guillotine blade; a sterilized veterinary nail clipper used to cut the skin. A scalpel may be used to remove the last piece of the cat's toe. Declawing is a painful and unnecessary surgery. It is impossible to know how much pain and suffering declawing causes, because cats are unable to express these in human terms. However, if we compare similar procedures in people, nearly every human amputee reports "phantom" pains from the amputated appendage. If the feeling is intense enough, these sensations are called phantom pains or phantom limb syndrome. These phantom pains vary from merely strange to excruciating. Given that declawing involves at least ten separate amputations, it is virtually certain that all declawed cats experience phantom pain in one or more toes.

Animals instinctively hide pain and illness until it becomes overwhelming.

Unlike routine recoveries, including...