Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Most Painful Mani-Pedi: Consider an Alternative Before Declawing Your Cat

When I moved into my first apartment after graduating college last year, I faced a lot of decisions regarding outrageous pet fees. Although I lamented these fees and still continue to do so, I understood why paying a deposit was necessary. Just in case my ten year old cat, Cady, decided to destroy the place, my landlord would be able to pay for repairs. However, the odds were in my favor. Cady does have anxiety, but luckily, (or not so luckily,)  he takes it out on me and not my rugs and furniture. My landlord requested a deposit along with a large (and crazy) non-refundable payment because my cat was not declawed.

There is a downside to losing a lot of money as a new college grad who is paying off loans and making entry-level pay; but, it is also critical to weigh-in on another issue at hand: the excruciating pain that cats endure during the declawing process that can affect the rest of their lives and personalities.

Paws off! 
It is easy to forget or displace the fear, anxiety and pain an animal feels when it is declawed because as humans, we drop our pets off at the vet and then they come home to us in one piece. And even better, they can't destroy the house! But wait-it's never that simple, at least not for the animal. First off, declawing a cat is similar to cutting off the first segment of the human finger. Just imagine how painful it would be to lose all ten of your finger-nails and the top parts of your fingers. You would never feel normal sensations on the tips of your fingers again and the process would be extremely painful. Not only would you have to endure that suffering physically, but you would also have to cope with the fact that you can't grasp objects as easily and would have to modify your daily lifestyle.

When cats are declawed, they lose an integral part of their being. They are unable to satisfy both physical and psychological needs. According to peta.org, cats scratch as a way to expend energy, to play and to mark their territory inside and outside. Cats become very attached to scratching posts and even card board once they understand that they are allowed to scratch certain things. It all stems from the feline's primal urge to scratch their nails and mark their territory on trees in the wild. Humane organizations, including PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,) fight against declawing because limiting a cat's natural urge to scratch may make them more aggressive, shy and nervous because they lose the ability to defend themselves. It may also cause other behavioral problems,  such as using the bathroom outside of the litter box. I don't know about you, but my cat thoroughly enjoys scratching around in his litter box while marking his territory.

Lastly, a cat may suffer from severe medical complications that could lead to heavy bleeding, infection or death.The process overall is very painful and a cat may never recover psychologically from this trauma.

I am against declawing cats, especially because there are healthy and easy alternatives that allow you to live your life while your cat doesn't have to suffer the consequences of a painful procedure. For one, provide your cat with plenty of toys, like cat scratching posts, that allow for climbing, clawing and scratching. Buy a blanket and bed specifically made for your cat that allows for kneading without it being an issue. Walk your cat on a harness outside so that he or she can sharpen nails on trees. Bring home old card board boxes for your cat to shred. Consider using Feliway Pheromone diffusers, sprays and collars to curb scratching and anxiety associated with it. For more serious situations, check out Soft Paws' plastic cat nail caps or talk to your vet about behavioral or medical treatment. And always remember to cut your cat's nails often!

I urge you not to declaw a cat because of apartment fees. If you are an animal lover who cannot live comfortably with apartment animal fees, consider waiting to adopt a feline friend or adopting one from a shelter who is already declawed. That way, you don't have to be a direct supporter of this horrendous process and you can still give a cat a loving home. Research all options before making any rash decisions; there are apartment complexes out there that offer more affordable pet fees. Most animal rescue and placement websites, such as http://www.petfinder.com/index.html, allow you to search specifically for declawed cats if you are interested in adoption.

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