Five Reasons To Declaw Your Cat - And the Best Reason Not To
By Puppy For Sale Massachusetts
When you have your cat declawed, you are actually amputating the first joint of each front toe. This is necessary because the nail bed covers almost the entire joint, and leaving a portion of the claw un-amputated can result in some nasty infections and other complications.
Make no mistake, this is painful for a cat to undergo, and it will take the cat several weeks to recover physically. Typically, declawing is only done on the front claws, leaving the back feet intact; this isn't necessarily good, as a cat can do massive damage with back claws alone once it clamps onto you with its teeth!
You should not declaw your cat unless you really need to – and there are a few reasons why you should. Here are five reasons given by people to declaw their cats, some good, and some bad.
"He claws up my furniture." Cats are going to claw things; it is not just instinctive, it is physically necessary for them to keep their claws at a manageable length. There are alternatives to declawing a cat to protect your furniture; you can purchase a scratching post and train the cat to use it, for instance, or you can get claw sheaths that fit over each claw and then clip the cat's claws regularly.
"He will scratch the baby." This is a much more valid reason than the cat clawing the furniture. If you have a very aggressive cat, it might be something to genuinely worry about. Not only does a cat scratch hurt, but it also can carry some nasty diseases; cats do use their claws to bury their feces, as I remind my son when he wants to let the cat on the table.
"I'm pregnant and afraid of getting toxoplasmosis." Obstetricians routinely admonish pregnant women to not change the litter box or handle cats that could scratch them because of the risk of toxoplasmosis. However, the reality is that most toxoplasmosis is contracted by gardening or handling raw meat that is infected with the bacterium. If you have a history of problem pregnancies and a cat that will scratch, this might be a valid reason to have your cat declawed.
"I'm an immunocompromised person, and though I love my cat, I can't afford for him to scratch me." This is probably the very best reason to get your cat declawed. Immunocompromised people, whether the issue is organ transplant or HIV, need the companionship of those they love, but a simple cat scratch can cause a raging infection that your body may not be able to fight off. If you do have a problem like this, you should get your cat declawed, but you should also be aware that you cannot let your cat outside after this; it will be at a disadvantage against dogs and cats that don't have this disability.
"I'm afraid of cat scratch fever." This is also a valid reason, but it's usually not a danger. Cat scratch fever is spread by bacteria called Bartonella henselea. It is generally found to infect humans in the cold fall and winter months, possibly because your outdoor cats spend more time indoors. About five percent of the US population have been exposed but have not developed this disease. Symptoms include fever, chills, and a lethargy and malaise, and it's often mistaken for flu. A more serious form involves swollen lymph nodes that may have to be drained; most of the time, this form is found in people with weak immune systems, and it can kill.
The odd thing is adult cats only rarely transmit the disease; most commonly it comes from the kittens. The bacterium lives in the cat's mouth and migrates to the claws, but only the claws appear to be able to spread the disease. Declawing kittens at an early age if they're in a household with an immunocompromised person is the only reliable way of preventing the disease; though kittens with the disease can be screened and treated with antibiotics, the bacteria generally comes back. There is also no record of a person having the disease more than once.
And the one good reason to not have your cat declawed: any cat that goes outdoors is exposed to terrible danger if he or she is declawed. Only get your cat declawed for a good reason, and then be aware that you must take pains that he or she never get out of doors alone and unleashed again.
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