Cat Parent Travels 272 Miles To Have Kanga’s Declawed Paws Relieved From Pain By The Paw Project Veterinarian’s








It’s Not Declawing, It’s ‘De-Toeing’ by Dr. Karen Becker


Story at-a-glance
-Declawing of cats is still legal in the U.S., and sadly, it’s still somewhat common
-It’s important to understand that declawing is not nail removal, it’s the permanent amputation of bones in each of your cat’s toes
-A recent study concluded that declawed cats have more pain and behavior issues than non-declawed cats
-The study’s authors hope their results will encourage veterinarians to reconsider declawing cats
-There are many alternatives to declawing your cat, starting with providing appropriate scratching surfaces and training kitty to use them

By Dr. Becker

I’ve written many articles here at Healthy Pets about the inhumane practice of declawing cats, a procedure called an onychectomy. The surgery has been banned in several countries, but continues to be commonly and legally performed in many others, including the U.S.

It’s Not Declawing, It’s ‘De-Toeing’

Cats use their claws for balance, exercise and stretching and toning the muscles of their legs, back, shoulders and paws. They also use them to hunt and capture prey, to escape or defend against predators and as part of their marking behavior when they live outdoors. What many people don’t realize is that declawing isn’t a nail trim, or even nail removal. It’s not even declawing, it’s “de-toeing.” The procedure removes not just the claws, but also the bones, nerves, joint capsule, collateral ligaments and the extensor or flexor tendons.

Cats are digitigrades, meaning they walk on their toes. Most other mammals, including humans, walk on the soles of their feet. Cats have three bones in each of their toes, just as we have three bones in each of our fingers — two joints and three bones. A kitty’s claw actually grows out of the last bone. This is very different from human fingernails, which grow out of flesh. Since a cat’s nail grows from the bone, it’s the bone that must be amputated to prevent the claw from growing back.

The declawing procedure involves cutting between the second and third bones, and amputating the last bone that contains the claw. This severs everything in the way — nerves, tendons and blood vessels. A front-paw declaw requires 10 separate amputations. If the hind paws are also done, that’s eight more separate amputations. Thankfully, hind paw declawing is much less common, but also much more painful for the cat.

Past research into the effects of declawing has primarily focused on short-term, post-operative changes. But recently, a small team of researchers from the U.S. and Canada published the results of a study to determine whether declawing increases the risk of long-term pain and unwanted behaviors in cats.1

Pain is actually very often the root cause of undesirable behaviors such as eliminating outside the litterbox and aggression, including biting. This situation is obviously harmful for the cat who’s in constant pain, and it’s risky for human family members who may be bitten. In addition, litterbox avoidance and aggression are two very common reasons pet parents give for relinquishing their cats to shelters.

63 Percent of Declawed Study Cats Had Residual Bone Fragments

For the retrospective study, the researchers looked at 137 non-declawed cats and 137 declawed cats, 33 of which were declawed on both the front and back paws. Of the 274 kitties, 176 were privately owned (88 declawed, 88 non-declawed) and 98 were shelter cats (49 declawed and 49 non-declawed).

All the cats underwent physical exams to check for signs of pain and “barbering,” which is excessive licking and/or chewing of fur. In addition, their medical records for the previous two years were reviewed for reported unwanted behaviors such as inappropriate elimination, aggression and biting with minimal provocation.

X-rays of the declawed cats were also taken to check for distal limb abnormalities, including P3 (third phalanx) bone fragments. Sadly, well over half (86 or 63 percent) of these kitties showed radiographic evidence of residual P3 fragments.

Declawed Cats Had Significantly More Pain and Behavior Issues Than Non-Declawed Cats

The research team discovered that inappropriate elimination, biting, aggression and over-grooming occurred much more often in the declawed than the non-declawed kitties. The declawed cats had seven times the litterbox issues, four times the biting behavior and three times the aggressive and over-grooming behaviors as their non-declawed counterparts.

The declawed kitties also had almost three times the back pain of the non-declawed cats, which the researchers theorized could be the result of altered gait due to the shortening of the declawed limbs, and/or persistent pain at the surgery site, which causes compensatory weight shift to the pelvic limbs.

When an onychectomy is performed, the veterinarian is supposed to remove the entire third phalanx (P3) bone per the surgical guidelines set forth by the Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. The fact that 86 of the 137 declawed cats were walking around with P3 bone fragments means a significant number of vets aren’t performing declawing procedures up to standard.

These cats had even more back pain and undesirable behaviors than the remaining declawed cats, but the researchers also make the point that even when onychectomy is performed to standard, it doesn’t eliminate the risks. Residual pain in the declawed toes prompts many cats to look for soft surfaces rather than litter for purposes of elimination.

The researchers also explained that painful declawed cats may resort to biting when touched because their first line of defense, their claws, has been taken from them. Lead study author Nicole Martell-Moran, a veterinarian at a cat-only clinic in Houston, told EurekAlert:

“The result of this research reinforces my opinion that declawed cats with unwanted behaviors may not be ‘bad cats,’ they may simply need pain management. We now have scientific evidence that declawing is more detrimental to our feline patients than we originally thought and I hope this study becomes one of many that will lead veterinarians to reconsider declawing cats.”2

5 Ways to Minimize Cat Claw Damage Around Your Home

Scratching is a normal behavior for your cat. It conditions and sharpens his claws, allows him to get in a good back stretch and it’s also how he marks his territory, which is why cats return to the same place again and again to do their scratching. To avoid the damage those sharp little claws can do to both you and your belongings:

1. Supply your cat with appropriate scratching surfaces. Kitties vary in the way they scratch and the surfaces they prefer. Observe your cat’s scratching behavior and try to match your scratcher purchase to it.

Some kitties scratch horizontally. Some reach high overhead vertically for a good backstretch. Some lie on their backs and scratch a surface above them. Also observe what types of surface your cat prefers to scratch. Some cats prefer soft fabric while others like wood flooring.

If possible, buy or make cat scratchers that will satisfy both your kitty’s preferred scratching position and surface. This might involve more than one scratcher design.

Your kitty’s scratchers must be placed where they’ll be used. Clawing is in part a marking behavior for your cat, so she’ll probably return to the same place to scratch. Sticking the scratchers in out-of-the-way spots your cat doesn’t frequent is unlikely to encourage her to use them.

Once you’ve got your scratchers in position, encourage kitty to explore the scratcher using a lure like a feather toy or a toy with some organic catnip rubbed on it. Offer praise and treats each time she uses the post and especially when she digs her claws into it. Pet her while she’s using the post, and give her plenty of positive reinforcement.

2. Trim your cat’s nails weekly or at least every couple of weeks.

3. Protect any off-limits areas your cat is scratching. Use a combination of kitty scratching deterrents, including aluminum foil, double-sided tape, plastic sheeting, plastic carpet runners or car mats with the spiky sides up, or inflated balloons. If you’re covering surfaces you need to use frequently, like furniture, you can attach the foil, tape or plastic to pieces of cardboard and easily move them in and out of position.

4. Use herbal sprays designed to replace your pet’s paw pad scent markers on furniture or other surfaces with an odor that will discourage him from returning to that spot. I use citrus essential oils on the corners of my couch to deter scratching.

5. Consider covering your cat’s nails with a commercially available nail cap, which will protect both you and your belongings from kitty’s sharp claws.

[-]Sources and References

EurekAlert! May 23, 2017
1 Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, May 23, 2017
2 EurekAlert!, May 23, 2017

Dr. Beker’s article here

Dr. Marty Becker-The Evidence Against Declawing Cats Just Keeps Mounting

The evidence against declawing cats just keeps mounting

We’re seeing yet more evidence that not only does declawing not keep cats out of shelters, but it can cause a lifetime of pain and difficulty walking for cats who have undergone the procedure.

The routine declawing of cats, known as “onychectomy,” has become extremely common in the United States, but that’s not the case elsewhere — in fact, it’s illegal in many countries, and rarely practiced in most.

We in the veterinary profession have long justified performing this surgery by saying it would prevent cats from scratching furniture and other possessions, as well as people, in their homes, and keep them from being taken to a shelter or put outside to fend for themselves. We’ve also claimed that, when performed skillfully and with appropriate pain medication, it was not harmful.

I’ve written about post-declawing pain syndrome before, and a study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery this spring reinforces my concern. The researchers found declawed cats are at risk of back pain and gait problems, retained bone fragments, and were more likely to bite and stop using their litter boxes. Additionally, they stated:

Declawing cats increases the risk of unwanted behaviors and may increase risk for developing back pain. Evidence of inadequate surgical technique was common in the study population. Among declawed cats, retained P3 fragments further increased the risk of developing back pain and adverse behaviors.

The use of optimal surgical technique does not eliminate the risk of adverse behavior subsequent to onychectomy.

In another study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association late last year, the authors found that declawed cats who live with other cats are three times more likely to fail to use the litter box appropriately than those with intact claws:

(H)aving cats that had undergone onychectomy in a 3- to 5-cat household were all significant predictors of house soiling. Notably, having cats that had undergone onychectomy in a 3- to 5-cat household increased the risk of house soiling by more than 3-fold, indicating that the association between onychectomy and house soiling was influenced by the number of cats per household.

Compare this finding with the results of the analysis in which onychectomy status was stratified by the number of cats per household, which showed that onychectomy status had no confounding effect on this association. Taken together, these results indicated that when there were 3 to 5 cats in a household that had also undergone onychectomy, there was a greater risk of house soiling in that household.

Since litter box avoidance is the top reason cats are surrendered to shelters, continuing to use keeping cats out of shelters as a way to rationalize declawing seems increasingly insupportable.

It’s also worth noting that virtually all national humane organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, Alley Cat Allies,, the North Shore Animal League, Petfinder, and Best Friends Animal Society, as well as countless shelters and rescue groups across the country, vehemently oppose surgical declawing of cats unless medically necessary due to a condition such as cancer or severe injury.

I’m with them. I hope the rest of my profession joins us soon.

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Dr. Marty Becker Link To His Post



My name is Cassandra Cat, I have been front declawed ten years ago. My previous owners dumped me into the woods because I started to bite them. My paws have nerve damage and are always numb. I shake them all the time. I wake up from my naps because I hiss and growl in my sleep. I have nightmares all the time, flashbacks of my declawing. A veterinarian who does not declaw cannot examine my paws unless they medicate me, I may have bone fragments in my paws from a botched declaw. The veterinarian said she did not want to put me through medication, X-rays, possible correction surgery because it would traumatize me further. She used to declaw many years ago and stopped. I take herbal medications daily for my mental instability and pain. I will never forget laying on the operating table while each of my toes were being amputated. I heard the snap, and saw my claws on the table next to me. It wasthe most horrible experience, I cried and cried and no one heard me. Did I tell you there is NOT a strong enough medication in the entire WORLD that can quench the pain of having bone amputated? I bite my new owner, she cannot pet me or brush me. She can give me a bath, the warm spray from the shower head feels good on my arthritic back; declawed cats walk unnaturally as the entire skeletal system is out of whack and causes arthritis. Try walking without much needed toes, cats walk on their toes. I am extremely heartbroken humans have done this to me. I cannot knead, climb, hunt, and I never purr.

Declawing is a major orthopedic operation, it is amputation of the third distal phalanx toe bone and was marketed by the American Veterinary Medical Association in 1952; using furniture/skin as a selling tool because veterinarians needed extra cash to pay off their huge college loans. Declawing does not benefit a cat, there are no pros, only cons, do the research. The pros of declawing are for veterinarians only, as I have mentioned. Most veterinarians who declaw train their receptionists to promote declawing with the spay/neuter, have discount coupons, never explain the long term detrimental side effects, have expensive lasers to pay for. A declawing can go up to $900, it depends on how good the veterinarian is with marketing. Or it can go as low as $100, it depends on what back alley discount spay/neuter butcher shop is used. Most pet parents, once they learn what onychectomy REALLY is and who are not lied to about the procedure, will refuse to declaw. Some pet parents are lied to and told declawing is a simple surgery, the pain goes away after several days. No More Excuses! Do your own research! That’s what the Internet is for, a vast library full of scientific information about the procedure! Read the NEW peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery-Pain and Adverse Behavior in Declawed Cats 6/2017, Google it. It was done by ethical veterinarians who do not declaw (The Paw Project) and you WILL NOT find this study in the AVMA’s journals because they want to continue to have their veterinarian members declaw to pay off their college debts.

The American Veterinary Medical Association @AVMAVets, American Animal Hospital Association @AAHAHealthypet and American Association of Feline Practitioners @CatVets all do nothing to stop declawing, their declaw ‘policies’ are useless. They could care less their animal abusing members cash in on claws. The AVMA promotes declawing at their ‘accredited’ colleges, they hold declaw wet-labs around the country, and the other two associations mentioned participate. I will say there ARE ethical veterinarians who do not declaw that belong to one or all of the above. I give the Paw Project an honorable mention, they have banned declawing in eight California cities and their members perform paw-repair surgery on deformed and mutilated declawed paws which their ‘colleagues’ declawed.

A NOTE TO VETERINARIANS: Who promote declawing with coupons, discounts, and verbally: You should have your fingers axed and be prosecuted to the fullest in a court of law, then in prison for LIFE for animal abuse. You declaw 5,000 cats a day and never blink an eye, sick psychopaths. Monsters.

AVMA/AAHA/AAFP: Why do you exist? You are nothing but greedy blood sucking corporations that use your members for their dues only, you give them nothing back. AVMA is always pushing for more veterinarians when the market is already over-loaded, there is a vet on every street corner, like McDonalds, most are in debt and use declawing as another income source because they are in competition with each other. 4,000 vets graduate yearly and are forced to join corporate hospitals and are forced to declaw to meet the monthly quota OR they are out of a job. So, I wonder WHY THE DEPRESSION in the veterinary field is so high. Stop using cyber-bullying when people speak up about declawing, COWARDS. Cowards harm innocent, once healthy animals. How do you sleep at night? I hope your dreams, from this day forward, are nightmares with cat’s scratching out your eyes continuously. See how YOU LIKE having nightmares every night like I do.

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American Veterinary Medical Association Did NOT Peer-Review Declawing In The 50’s Or Ever


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