Imagine you’re a happy kitten. You play, run, jump, bat toys around, and when you’re all played out, you snuggle with your feline and human friends, kneading them with your paws like you did your mom when you were nursing on her. Life is good. Then one day you’re taken to the vet, where you go under anesthesia, then wake up in terrible pain. The end of all your toes have been cut off!
You try to stand up and walk, but pain shoots up from your amputated toes, despite the pain medication which makes your vision blurry and your stomach clench. You try to go get a drink, but there’s a huge plastic cone around your head, tied tightly with gauze around your neck. Your litter box is there, but it’s filled with shredded newspaper, not the litter you as a good kitten know you should use for the bathroom. You try to dig to see if maybe there is litter under the paper, and as your paws hit the litter box bottom, more searing pain shoots up from the missing ends of your toes. Every step is painful – even balancing to walk is difficult. You give up and lie down, wondering when this nightmare will be over, not knowing the pain may last for days and weeks, and maybe even the rest of your life.
Sadly, this is not a made-up horror story. Every year in the United States, pet owners allow veterinarians to declaw their cats. Each cat is an individual. Each veterinarian has a different skill level and technique when performing a declawing operation. There is no way to know how much pain your cat or kitten will be enduring for the rest of their life if you have them declawed. Please, don’t declaw your cat! Instead, humanely train them to scratch where you want, and use vinyl nail caps instead.