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Declawing Cats

Pet Care
Sick of your cat scratching your furniture and thinking of getting it declawed? There is a better solution to this; make sure you offer your cat a variety of scratch toys and surfaces to scratch!
Did you know declawing cats is illegal in Qld under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001? The only exception is if a vet deems it to be in the best interest of the cat’s welfare. Medical reasons that could lead to the need to declaw include cancer of the bone or surrounding tissue, irreversible damage to the claw, claws that can’t retract and paronychia (nail bed infections) that don’t respond to treatment. But usually, this would result in only one digit (or maybe two) being declawed and not all.
What is involved in declawing a cat?
There are numerous different techniques, but the one thing they all have in common it that to remove the claw you have to remove bone if you don’t want the claw to regrow. When someone says ‘claw,’ you may think of the toenail of a cat. However, declawing goes much deeper than that. It is much more complicated then trimming or removing the cat's nails (claws), it is a surgical procedure. The surgery involves amputating the distal phalanges of all toes on the front paws, and sometimes the rear paws as well. It is comparable to cutting off a human's fingers and toes at their last knuckle.
Are there any side effects to declawing?
Yes, of course, like most surgical procedures there are side effects. Declawing doesn’t come without risks.

• Pain post-surgery and in some cases, lifelong.

• Post-surgical infection.

• Post-surgical bleeding (this is the most common complication of declawing).

• Wound reopening post-surgery.

• Regrowth of the claw if the entire bone isn’t removed.

• The development of arthritis due to a change in walking posture.

• Behavioural issues may arise, most commonly inappropriate toileting as using a litter tray maybe painful.

• The development of biting habits as a result of the loss of their claws as a defence mechanism.

Are there any alternatives to declawing?
Some people feel that declawing is the only way they can manage their pets' scratching habits, but there are alternatives to declawing.

• Scratching posts- these encourage your cat to scratch the posts rather than the furniture. Ideally, you should have two or more scratching posts in your home.

• Training – you need to train your cat where and where not to scratch. Encourage your cat to use the scratching posts by sprinkling catnip on the posts once a week.

• Trimming- regular trimming of you cats claws. Trim only the clear tip of the nail. Do not clip the area where pink tissue is visible nor the slightly opaque region that outlines the pink tissue. If unsure about clipping, ask your veterinarian to show you how.

Tahlia McFarlane
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