Lets Cut Through The B.S.
by Kelly S.
(Silver Creek, NY, USA)
After watching Michaels very poignant video about the act of declawing, I felt compelled to write this. My own experience has taught me many things, not the least of which is just HOW cruel declawing is.
I am not talking about the obvious (and well documented) long term effects, but the procedure itself. I think in educating people we tend to focus on the long term. We always talk about the early onset arthritis, the behavioral issues, the declawed cats surrendered day after day to shelters, and the complications such as neuroparxia, 4th degree burns, and bone regrowth. What about the procedure itself? What about the pain, stress, and emotional damage that it causes?
Many pro-mutilation folks like to argue that declawing is no different than a “routine” spay/neuter procedure. Nothing can be further form the truth. First of all, NO surgery is “routine”. It may be a “simple” procedure, but anytime an animal (or human) is under anesthesia, there is nothing routine about it. I have been a tech for 20+ years. In those years I have done anesthesia and recovery on thousands of spays and neuters. During recovery, these animals are groggy, a little stressed, and most are simply trying to figure out what just happened. After a few hours, they are mostly back to themselves, not in any obvious pain, and are eating and drinking normally. These same animals that return to the vet for rechecks, etc are the same happy-go-lucky little balls of fur they were before the procedure. You can check their incision site without having to restrain them or having them get upset with you.
After a declaw, cats are stressed, exhibit fight or flight response, are in obvious pain, and many bleed profusely in the first 24 hours. Most in the clinic will not eat while they are there, sometimes up to 48-72 hours. These same cats, upon return to the clinic want absolutely nothing to do with being there. They are at best shy and afraid, at worst downright vicious. They will not allow you to touch their feet and examining them is always difficult.
So, do YOU think they know what happened to them? Do they remember? Of course they do. It is blatantly obvious. This place hurts….that is all they know. They will forever look at humans differently.
If you are in a car accident, or have a traumatic injury, won’t you remember that? Will you not always be a little leary of any situation that reminds you of it? Why is an animal any different? If you reward them for using the sisal post, they respond. If you feed them at 4 pm every day, they will be sitting by their dish at 10 minutes of. If you HURT them, they remember that too.
I have seen the horror in their eyes. I have seen the excruciating pain these normally very stoic creatures are enduring. I have cleaned up the blood. I have had to sedate them post-op to prevent them from injuring themselves further. And I have seen the fear months and even years afterward every time they are put in a carrier or come into the office.
People considering declaw need to be made aware of not just the long term effects, but the emotional damage they are doing to their cat just by putting them through it.