What many people may not understand is that "scratching" is a common behavior of cats. This is how they exercise their muscles, remove dead husks from their claws and mark their territory both visually and with scent glands in their paws. More often than not, this natural behavior for a cat is interpreted as misbehavior by its owners and instead of modifying a cat's environment to provide a solutions for the undesirable scratching, many individuals modify the cat by having its claws removed.
Many may think that declawing is just "removing a cats nails" when in fact it is amputating the last portion of a cats last bone (distal phalanx) in a cats toe. To compare, for a human it would be like amputating your finger from the last joint forward. This surgery called onychectomy is an extreme measure that can be painful, lengthy, may involve postoperative complications such as infection; hemorrhage and nail re-growth (which could lead to more surgery) and has absolutely no medical benefit to a cat.
A less invasive procedure called tenotomy or deep digital flexor tendonectomy is sometime done in lieu of onychectomy. In this procedure, the tendons that control the claws are severed without amputating the toes. With tenotomy a cat can no longer extend or retract its claws. Although postoperative problems are lessened, there is still no medical benefit to the cat and nails still need to be trimmed.
Both procedures leave a cat defenseless and with tenotomy a cat's nails still need to be trimmed and they can not retract or extend their claws. This poses a potential heath hazard to the cat because their claws can become stuck on objects and they have no way to retract their claws.
Cats that have been declawed may also find it painful to use a litter box following surgery and associate its use as a painful experience. This could lead to life-long issues with inappropriate urination throughout the home. Some declawed cats may also become more aggressive as their only means of defense is their teeth and they may bite more.
There are several other options like modifying your cats environment; providing scratching posts and cat trees; utilizing humane behavior modification tools (squirt gun or water bottle mister) or happy claws nail covers. For more information, please visit www.declawing.com.