By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views
Those of you who know me, know that I adore cats–claws and all. I would never declaw a cat. Simply put, it’s wrong. The operation is painful, and it has been likened to cutting off the first knuckles of a human hand.
Cats use their claws to grab things. If you ever tossed a toy to a kitty, you can see her grasp onto it with her claws. Cats also scratch to remove the dead outer layer of their claws. And yes, they like to scratch. If, however, your cat is scratching your sofa or carpet, then you need to buy a good scratching post and train your cat to use it.
The U.S. and Canada are the only countries where declawing is commonplace. In other countries, it is illegal or is considered inhumane. The American Veterinary Medical Association also considers it cruel. Following are 5 reasons why cats need their claws:
1. For Protection: If your cat ever gets outside and doesn’t have claws, he will be defenseless. Cats use their claws to climb trees, which can help them escape from dangerous situations. Without those claws, he has a greater chance of being attacked. Even indoor cats need their claws. I have a 9-year old, and when his friends come by they often want to pick up the cat. My cat likes some of the kids, and runs from the more aggressive ones. I am always on hand to make sure everyone is safe. In my house, everyone treats Earl, my cat, with respect. Don’t pick him up if he doesn’t want to be picked up. Earl is a sweetheart. However, he will show his claws if he feels threatened. He never struck anyone; yet it deters kids who can become overbearing.
2. For Exercise: They also use their claws for stretching their muscles.
3. Claws Mark Territory: Ever see a declawed cat scratch your furniture? It’s an inherent trait that marks a cat’s territory. They won’t scratch a particular item if you train them to use a scratching post. (In my house we avoid certain items, like tightly woven rugs and wicker furniture. They are just too tempting for my cat.)
4. For Balance: When a cat is declawed, it’s not at all like clipping nails. Declawing is amputating the claw and related bone and muscle tissue. Without that, balance is often affected.
5. To Catch Prey: Cats are natural hunters. My indoor cat has caught a few crickets that made their way indoors. He pounces on them and uses his claws to hold them in place.