Cats purr and cuddle. They do their business in a litter box. They don't demand constant attention. They are not noisy and constantly barking at strangers. Their one downfall is they scratch. Their claws dig into furniture and carpet, destroying drapes and other items.
Rather than constantly replacing ruined carpet and sofas, cat owners look for other solutions to their feline's destructive behavior. One such solution is declawing a cat, but recent years have questioned whether this solution is humane.
Declawing a cat is not a simple procedure. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, declawing is a surgical amputation and should not be rushed into without thoroughly discussing the pros and cons with your cat's veterinarian first. During the declawing procedure, the last bone of the cat's toe is removed, according to the Humane Society of the United Sates, using a scalpel, a laser or guillotine clippers. As with any surgery, infection and tissue damage are possible immediate side effects of the procedure.
Other side effects are longer lasting, possibly affecting the cat for the rest of its life. Because part of the toe bone is removed, the cat's gait might permanently change, resulting in back pain or lameness, PetMD states. Some cats may resort to biting more because their claws, which are part of their natural defense system, are gone.
In addition, declawing a cat later in life can cause it to stop using the litter box, according to the Humane Society. This is because shredded newspaper is used instead of kitty litter until the cat has recovered from the surgery. Some cats don't like the feel of the newspaper and quit using the box altogether. They also may associate the pain after surgery with the litter box.