A study first published May 23, 2017, entitled Pain and adverse behaviour in declawed cats, definitively concluded that 63% of the declawed cats in the study had bone fragments remaining in their toes. The bone fragments were present because the veterinarian who did the operation did it poorly. They did it too quickly and too carelessly. They lacked precision. This left bone fragments in the toe. This in turn caused pain. As I say in the title, go figure how that feels to a cat 24/7.
It affects every aspect of their life. Imagine if you had bone fragments in your toes and you are walking around your home or going to the shops. You are going to be hobbling and in agony. You would try and protect yourself from that pain which would affect the way you walked which in turn will affect your back and quite likely cause back pain and other behavioral issues.
This is exactly what happens to cats and they try and hide it but it comes out in ‘bad behavior’. The scientists also found that cats with bone fragments in their toes demonstrated ‘significant increases’ of inappropriate elimination i.e. peeing outside of the litter box, biting i.e. aggression and barbering which means over grooming the belly. Cats over-groom to relieve pain. It is a distraction therapy. And in addition, they found that the odds of a cat getting back pain significantly increased with declawed cats with retained bone fragments compared with declawed cats without bone fragments.
However, even when the declawing operation is carried out expertly i.e. optimal surgical techniques were used, it did not eliminate the risk of adverse behaviour subsequent to the declawing operation (onychectomy).
Even without bone fragments in the toes declawed cats bit more often and had undesirable habits in terms of urination compared to the control cats who had not been declawed.
The study looked at 137 declawed and 137 non-declawed cats. Of these cats, 176 were owned (88 declawed and 88 non-declawed) and 98 were shelter cats (49 declawed and 49 non-declawed). The scientists checked their medical history for the past two years to review unwanted behaviours such as inappropriate elimination and biting with minimal provocation and aggression. All the declawed cats were x-rayed for “distal limb abnormalities including P3 (third phalanx) bone fragments”. This means their toes were x-rayed.
People don’t want to read these sorts of articles it seems to me because a lot of Americans still declaw their cats. They declaw their cat even when they know this is what happens as a result. Anybody reading this must be compelled to come to the conclusion that a significant percentage of American veterinarians are hopeless. Either that or they are careless. And they are careless because they are expedient. They do these operations far too quickly when they shouldn’t do them at all. They are chasing money because they think they deserve to earn more money than they do. It is a complete abdication of their duty to their patients and of their oath.
I’m boring people. Because I write about these things too much. But it is a great stain on the American companion animal landscape. It’s also a blot on the UK veterinarian landscape because British veterinarians don’t want to talk about it. They should speak up and criticise American vets. They are silent. And by their silence they support declawing.
But the mood music is changing. People who’d normally declaw their cats are waking up to the scandal. The catastrophe. Millions of vulnerable kittens mutilated. For what?! 😢.