by Michael (PoC Admin)
Photo/artwork copyright Stockxpert
Pain management for declawed cats varies widely, which is disturbing because it is agreed by veterinarians that declawing cats caused a lot of pain. This page relates to the USA as this is were declawing takes place.
Declawing is painful. There is no such thing as a painless declaw1......It is critically important to ensure proper pain management post-op
Pain management in dogs and cats is an area where vast differences exist among veterinarians2
According to anecdotal evidence, many dogs and cats still receive little to no analgesia following surgery or trauma. Dr. Hellyer cited several surveys3.
In a survey of 2002, of 1000 vets in the USA, it was found that 44% did not administer pain relieving medication after surgery4. As at 2001 pain management at Colorado State University was not uniform. Canadian veterinarians surveyed indicated that:
Analgesics were not administered to..30 percent of cats undergoing surgery associated with tissue trauma and pain5
In about 1990 veterinarians were discussing whether animals actually hurt6! At that time, not long ago, there was still the lingering arrogance of humankind that presented a barrier to the commonsense belief that animals were like us - that we are animals. In 2001 onwards the discussion got around to how to manage pain. Don't you think that the veterinarians were a bit slow figuring it out? This informs us that there are still today many vets who do not administer proper pain killers after delawing. The most likely to under medicate are the older male vets. Younger female vets are more sympathetic to pain management and probably better informed.
What I am saying in this short post is that in addition to the fact that declawing is (a) unnecessary, (b) does not prevent reliquishment (declawed cat are also relinquished) and (c) is unethical and immoral, it also causes untold pain and the vets just aren't on top of this based on this research. The vagueness by the vets in dealing with post operative pain caused by this brutal procedure is rarely referred to and needs to be highlighted. It indicates negligence by the vets.
Bearing in mind the late awareness by veterinarians that cats can feel pain (extraordinary isn't it), it is my belief that veterinarians are still not fully aware of the kind of pain that they are causing when they declaw a cat. In fact they will probably never know for sure. There is a wide range of drugs used (when they are used) and some are less effective than others. Are some (a lot) ineffective? The type of pain that a declawed cat feels will probably include neurogenic pain. This is the pain felt from an amputated limb and I will suppose that that applies to a part of limb as is the case in declawing. Do vets fully understand this sort of pain? And if not aren't they negligent in performing a needless operation that probably causes it?
Animals are a valued part of society and are to be protected from needless suffering7
Declawing of cats is needless. If a vet says that it saves lives, please read the research: Cat Declawing Myths and Truths
All the arguments for declawing (all of which can be counter argued with ease) are essentially built around how the cat suffers no detriment. Yet I never see a pro-declaw person argue why it is ethically justifiable to cause massive pain to a companion animal without the animal's consent (which of course cannot be obtained) and for no reason other than the person's preference. On the basis that many hundreds of thousands of cats (an estimate by me on the figures mentioned above and the large number of declawed cats) feel pain after the operation because of improper use of pain killers or none used, it is impossible to counter the argument that the operation is highly unethical.
No consensus exists for what constitutes ethical treatment of animals with regard to pain, even among veterinarians, who are known to place a premium on relieving animal suffering. Studies have shown that sensitivity to animal welfare issues among veterinary students varies according to gender and background. Views may also vary according to nationality and religious beliefs8.
The above statement clearly indicates that there are bound to be many instances of cats suffering acute post operative pain for up to 429 days.
Sixty-one of 163 cats exhibited signs of pain for one to 42 days after declawing; however, the median duration of signs was two days10
Veterinarians would seem to hold a wide range of views and skills in regard to pain management11 making consistency impossible and the chances of a cat suffering post operative pain after a declaw is likely. The problem is that vets don't know how much pain the cat is feeling. It is all guesswork. On this factor alone should vets be declawing cats, forgetting all the other extremely cogent and important arguments against declawing?
I have found no research articles regarding pain management in animals dated about 2008 or 2009. Nearly all are around 2000. Does this mean that they are no longer bothered? Actually come think of it, most of them were never that bothered in the first place.
Pain management for declawed cats - Note: I have quoted pretty extensively. I argue fair use as it is vital to quote the exact text for feel and accuracy and this site is for charitable/educational purposes and the quotes come from research papers.