Declawing is the permanent removal of the claw from a cat's toe. Cats have five toes on each front foot and four toes on each back foot, with the exception of polydactyl cats who have extra toes on each foot.
People decide to declaw their cats because they are worried about the furniture being shredded and marred or a family member scratched and scarred. Declawing is something that people do for their own convenience without knowing what actually happens to their beloved cat.
Declawing is NOT a manicure. It is serious surgery. Your cat’s claw is not a toenail. It is connected to the bone. To remove the claw, the last bone of your cat’s toe has to be removed. Declawing is an amputation of the last knuckle on each toe, cutting through bone, tendons, skin, and nerves. In a person, it is equivalent to amputating each finger or toe at the last joint. This surgery is the same for big cats.
Please watch the following videos. The Declaw Surgery video by PawProject shows the actual process of claw removal. Also shown are the physical results of the declawing process as well as the after effects of the surgery.
Please notice: The veterinarian uses a tourniquet to keep the blood from pouring out of the severed blood vessels in the toe ends.
Knowing that declawing is actually several separate amputations, it becomes clear why declawing is not a humane act. It is painful surgery, excruciating recovery period, serious health risks, and complications such as infection and death. Remember that during the time of recuperation from the surgery, your cat will still have to use its feet to walk, jump, and scratch in its litter box regardless of the pain it is experiencing. Wheelchairs and bedpans are NOT an option for a cat. Cat lovers know that cats suffer pain but hide it well. Cats are proud. They instinctively know that they are at risk when in a weakened position, and by nature will attempt to hide it. But make no mistake: This is not a surgery to be taken lightly. Your cat’s body is perfectly designed to give it the grace, agility, and beauty that is unique to felines. Its claws are an imperative part of this design. Amputating the vital part of their anatomy that contains the claws drastically alters the conformation of their feet. The cat is also deprived of its primary means of defense, leaving it victim to predators if it ever escapes to the outdoors. Declaw surgery can produce permanent lameness, pain or arthritis. Your cat’s personality will change after being declawed, but much of the medical community does not recognize this side effect. For a firsthand account, talk to anyone who has lost a limb.