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Despite increasing news coverage of the painful side effects of onychectomy (de-clawing) for cats, many pet owners still perceive this surgery as relatively safe and harmless. A 2011 poll found that 59 percent of pet owners and 55 percent of cat owners thought was okay to de-claw a cat. What many people fail to understand is that cat's claws are not like people's fingernails. The claw is so closely attached to the bone that the end bone of the cat's paw must be removed during the de-clawing process. The procedure is an amputation and one with profound effects on the cat. Not only is the recovery extremely painful, including pain that may persist long after the surgery is done, but the process also changes the gait of the cat, which can also lead arthritis and joint pain. As such, many countries have actually outlawed onychectomies.

Understanding Tubal Ligation

Declawing and tying the tubes of a beloved cat are typically sought out for very different reasons. In the former scenario, it's most commonly an issue of making the feline furniture-friendly. In the latter scenario, the impetus is most often derived from a misguided desire to preserve the integrity of the cat's reproductive system as much as possible, while still preventing pregnancy. Yet, both derive from a basic misunderstanding of feline anatomy and physiology. Leaving the cat's reproductive system intact is harmful to the cat with few, if any, benefits.


Feline Sexuality and Reproduction

For one thing, by leaving the reproductive organs, you also leave the cat vulnerable to uterine and ovarian cancer, uterine infections, and other diseases that can afflict the reproductive system. Plus, simply tying her tubes means the cat will still go through regular intervals of being in heat. Some cat owners believe this is the whole point; the cat can still have sexual intercourse without exacerbating the bloated pet population. The problem is that sex itself is very painful for the female feline. The male cat's penis is heavily barbed with backward facing hooks, commonly believed to stimulate ovulation. Finally, as is the case with any tubal ligation, there is no guarantee of success. Your cat may still end up pregnant if the procedure was ineffective. Spaying, on the other hand, is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.

Alternative Solutions

Perhaps the most compelling reason to forgo these procedures is the existence of perfectly acceptable alternatives. Instead of declawing, you can regularly trim the claws, cover the cat's paws in a lightweight vinyl, or train the cat to use a scratching post. Spaying your cat may not feel humane, but given the consequences, it's easily the best solution if breeding is not in the cat's future. But the bigger lesson to be learned is to do your research and talk to your vet before undertaking any significant procedure. The best thing to do for your cat is not always the first thing that comes to mind.

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