Do Cats Walk Funny After Declawing?

by Tom Ryan, Demand Media
    Removing her claws can make walking uncomfortable -- permanently.

    Removing her claws can make walking uncomfortable -- permanently.

    While declawing your cat may seem like a solution to cat scratching, it's a controversial procedure that permanently alters not just her behavior, but also her ability to move around like she used to. While results vary from cat to cat, this procedure has risks, including impeding your cat's walking.

    The Process

    Removing a cat's claws is more invasive than it sounds. Imagine deciding that you never wanted to trim your fingernails again, so you cut off all of your fingertips at the knuckle -- this is the essence of declawing. While modern surgical techniques have made the procedure more precise than in the past, the process is fundamentally the same: The surgeon cuts out the tips of your cat's bones, preventing the claws from ever regrowing. This is generally regarded among professionals as both invasive and painful.

    Walking Issues

    Just like you rely on your toes for balance, a cat relies greatly on her claws. After having her claws removed and her bones cut, the way she walks is altered. Losing her claws affects her balance, her posture and her ability to walk, run and jump. If the procedure leaves your cat particularly uncomfortable, she can eschew the physical activity she once enjoyed, as navigating the environment is too difficult or awkward without her claws. She may even withdraw emotionally, exhibiting fear and aggression that she didn't before.

    Other Medical Consequences

    Declawing can lead to medical complications that cause your cat further pain and difficulty. For example, your cat's paws may become infected or experience tissue death. Removing the claws also creates a ripple effect across her body, as changing the way her paws sit on the ground affects her posture. This can ultimately lead to back and muscle pain from overcompensation.

    Alternatives

    There are no guarantees with declawing -- some cats take it well, while others experience a permanent emotional and physical change for the worse. If you're concerned about these side effects, consider the alternatives to removing her claws. For example, having her claws regularly trimmed by a groomer or covered with plastic claw caps minimizes the damage she can do with them, while providing her with scratching posts and other toys can discourage her from exercising her claws on the furniture.

    About the Author

    Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

    Photo Credits

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