Chris Kouwenhoven

The declawing question

Partial digital amputation (onychectomy) is a controversial topic in the United States. It is not a hot topic in many other countries, such as England and Germany, because it is not an option--it is against the law. The majority of cat owners who choose this form of elective surgery, believe that only the claws are removed. In reality, the procedure involves 10 or more amputations comparable to the removal of human fingertips at the first knuckle. Sensory and motor nerves are cut, damaged, and destroyed. Recovery from the surgery is a slow and painful process. This procedure can hamper the sensations and enjoyment involved in walking, running, springing, climbing, and stretching. The nervous, defensive, attitudes of many declawed cats suggest there is a heightened awareness of their vulnerability. Stress in cats, as in humans, takes its toll in a variety of health and behavior problems. Fortunately, there are many humane alternatives to declawing.