Before scrolling down, we must warn you that there are graphic photos in this article.
Paws have claws and that’s one of the nature’s laws.
Some cat owners, however, believe that they should get their cats “declawed”. Or even to have their fingers and toes cut off at the last knuckle. To most others, this declawing process is tantamount to mutilation.
Veterinarian Rachel Fuentes shared on Facebook the gruesome aftermath of a cat that had undergone a declawing procedure where part of the nail tissue was left accidentally. Rarely, viable nail tissue absolutely gets left behind, and as the nail cannot grow out and become worn down. It can grow into a spiral embedded in the flesh. In this case, the nail burst open the cat’s wrist in a mass almost as big as a ping-pong ball.
WARNING: THERE ARE GRAPHIC PHOTOS BELOW!
The actual process of declawing a cat, or onychectomy, involves amputating the distal phalange, or the first knuckle of the paw, using a tool similar to a cigar cutter or a laser. This particular procedure requires anesthesia and pain management as the cat heals from having his or her tendons severed.
Historically, some vets would recommend the declawing procedure without being asked and without explaining the risks, as surgery is a huge part of a vet’s income. According to the Paw Project, a 2003 survey of 20 Los Angeles–area vet hospitals found that 75 percent of vets agreed to declaw cats without ever asking why or suggesting alternatives. However, that goes against the American Veterinary Medicine Association’s guidelines.
The AVMA always recommends that declawing should only be performed after exhausting all other methods of minimizing cat scratches, and only if the owner is educated about the risks of the procedure. Today, there are many vets who refuse to declaw animals without medical necessity, which is now illegal in Los Angeles.
While this cat was declawed 12 years ago at the clinic where Fuentes works, times certainly have changed, and so have the staff and management. They now do not perform declaws unless it is mandatory for a pet’s health. If someone comes to their clinic asking for an elective declawing, the vets will go ahead and explain why it’s not a good idea.