I was having an email conversation last week with declawing advocate Susan when she brought up two facts I haven’t taken into consideration on declawed cats.
I’ve recently had several people tell me their cats had the procedure and came through it with great results. Susan gave me a quick education that I’d like to pass along. Two points to argue with anyone who believes declawing is good for the cat and the cats don’t suffer are:
1. Cats are good at masking their pain.
2. Cats may feel phantom pain in the same manner as amputees.
Today I’d like to talk about cat neuropathy, phantom pain and declawing.
I decided to study up a little on these subjects, also looking at the issue on human amputees. Think about it readers. Are any of you amputees? Lost a finger at work? Lost a toe to diabetes? Are any of you still in pain years later?
I believe declawed cats ARE in serious pain. They’re just very good at hiding it. I’ve had to treat a lot of different cat injuries. Stitches from fights, near paralysis from falling out of a tree during a fight. Each cat I’ve known who experienced pain was very good at hiding it.
Susan suggested people who have had their cats declawed should have the paws x-rayed to show the amount of inflammation present in the tissue. Even cats who were declawed by laser are still prone to inflammation. Get it through your heads people-declawing is PAINFUL!
The second thing I believe a lot of declawed cats suffer from is traumatic neuropathy. Take a look at this reference. It’s about humans, but it could easily apply to cats.
The article basically states all surgical or traumatic scars can damage the nerve located at the tip of the amputated area and cause pain long after the wound supposedly heals. This happens more often in wounds that were infected or took a long time to heal. Somehow the nerves get tangled up in the scar tissue.
Feline neuropathy is most often associated with diabetes. Imagine the pain a declawed cat would have to live with should diabetes cause this condition later in a cats life.
Peripheral neuropathy is caused by any number of conditions. I believe declawing may be one.
Doesn’t all of this sound reasonable as a consequence of declawing? I’m not an expert like Michael, Maggie, Barbara, Ruth or Susan. I’m only approaching this from a different angle. Anything to stop this madness. I’m sorry if I’ve omitted anyone.
Do the cats feel nerve pain for the rest of their lives after being declawed? Not to mention the damage done to muscles and tendons from the transfer of balance which happens after this cruel operation. A cat uses its toes to walk. Once part of them are cut off, the cat must compensate and this can cause pain and damage.
I’d always thought arthritis and behavorial issues were the only concerns. Susan’s thoughts added a whole new light to the issue. I’d never made any connection between nerve pain and declawing. After all, a cat can’t exactly tell us how it’s hurting.
So is the pain a declawed cat suffers caused by nerve damage or by muscle and tendon damage? It honestly doesn’t really matter. Pain is pain any way you look at it. If you love your cat, you don’t want to cause it pain. You realize your cats not only enjoy having claws, claws are necessary for many daily functions.
It burns me up to read about a declawed cat kneading and stretching its paws and the uneducated owner thinking everything is hunky-dory. Stretching the muscles after declawing can cause neuropathy pain.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) agrees declawing is a major cause of neuropathy pain which can last a lifetime. Cat owners are essentially maiming their cats.
How many people do you know who experience amputee pain who never say a word to anyone about their pain? Cats are suffering and their owners are in a state of denial.
Although surveys on human amputees vary greatly in the percentage who experience phantom pain, the general agreement is between 30%-75%. If cats fall into this percentage range then that’s a lot of cats who suffer needlessly.
A cat is better than many humans in hiding emotion. It’s part of their genetic makeup and is necessary for them to survive. I get upset at the people who tell me their cats didn’t suffer, never will suffer, and are better cats for having the procedure.
It doesn’t take an anatomy expert to know having body parts cut off, especially body parts that are used to walk, is heinous and should be illegal everywhere.
Do any of the readers know more about the phantom pain concept? Do you believe as I do that nerve pain may also occur in declawed cats?
I’m sorry I’m not an expert in this field. I’m trying everyone.