Sunday, July 29, 2007

I want to talk about declawing

I'm declawed. My brother and I were declawed at a pretty early age. I really can't remember what it was like to have claws. I'm sure they were handy, though (if you'll forgive the pun).

I'm grateful that I don't remember it. I don't mind if people touch my paws. I don't really have any residual pain from them. But they look awful! Do you know what they do when they declaw a cat? A lot of people think it's like removing a fingernail or something, but it's much more involved. It's really an amputation.

Gruesome details follow, scroll past if you're squeamish.

First they knocked my ass out. Damned good thing, too. Then they sliced open the pad of each digit and removed the first knuckle on each one. See, our nails are actually attached to the last bone in our paws. In order to remove the claws, you have to remove the whole bone! Gruesome, no? Thank Bast for short memories.

Then they sew us back up, wrap our paws, and let us sleep off the drugs. Here's where I'm really grateful for the short memory, because the recovery is really, really painful. For weeks it hurt just to put my paws down. Litterbox? Oh, forget it! We had to pee in shredded newspaper. I still refuse to bury my deposits. Is it because I remember how much it hurt back then? Who knows.

We learned to walk again, but it hasn't been the same. I don't walk the way I used to. Cats walk on their claws. Didn't know that, did you? I can't stretch the way I used to, either. You know, that full-body stretch? Man, I miss those (I think).

Anyway, I'm ok, for now. There's a chance I could develop arthritis and back problems. There's always a chance my litterbox habits could be more deeply affected (Jess and Marlene have promised that nothing will happen to me if I pee outside the box).

If you have cats and are thinking about having their toes removed, I beg you to consider otherwise. They'll regret it a lot more than you.

ps: There's another procedure called a tendonectomy. It's even worse. I shudder to think about it!


Fern said...

Mosby, maybe you could answer a question about how cats claws grow. I trim the claws on my kitties regularly, leaving them blunt. They grow back pointy again. How do they do that? Clearly, you've researched almost all there is to know about cats claws!

Thanks in advance,


Mosby said...

Excellent question, Fern! Cat claws are great little tools specialized for plucking prey from the air, out of the ground, or off a tree limb. They're curved, like a scythe. To keep them sharp, undeclawed cats scratch and pluck on tree bark (outside) or the barcalounger (unless you tell us otherwise). Besides that great stretch I mentioned, they're removing outer layers of nail to expose new, sharp nails underneath. You trim off a few millimeters of nail then, a month or so later, a new nail is emerging in the center. Since claws retract, they don't wear down unless we "file" them. It's sort of like an onion. I'm sure you've found pieces of cat nails around from your companions. Those are husks, outer layers shed to make way for new pointy ones. I hope this helps clear up this, um, pointy issue!