The Ethics Of Declawing

Great Essays
Amanda Dufficy
Research Paper
Ethics - Week Six

The Ethics of Declawing

There is much controversy surrounding the declawing of cats in the veterinary field. The procedure is called an onychectomy, which means removal of the nails. However, the nail is not simply removed. Instead, an onychectomy is the removal of the toe at the last joint. This removes the claw and the bone from which it originates. If you take a look at your own human hand, this would mean removing the tip of your finger at the joint just under your fingernail.
Ethically, arguments can be made that declawing is cruelty to animals, but also that human beings are the superior species and are entitled to declaw their cats in order to make themselves more comfortable.
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There are many European countries where declawing is illegal. Declawing is a surgery. It is not simply trimming the nail, like you would a fingernail or a toenail. The claw of a cat is very closely adhered to the bone of the phalange. It is so closely adhered to the bone that to remove the claw, the bone must be removed as well. This means amputation. This is why this procedure would be considered inhumane. To declaw means to remove the toe. The procedure ensures a very painful recovery, and while the animal is recovering, it still has to stand, walk, use it’s litter box, and sometimes jump regardless of the excruciating pain it may be experiencing. Cats are very good at hiding their pain but that does not mean that they are incapable of experiencing it. When a cat is in pain, often times they will inflict health issues on themselves by not eating, not drinking, and the stress can result in a lower urinary tract infection causing painful urination and bloody urine. Complications of onychectomy also include inadvertent removal of part of a digital pad, incomplete removal of the nail bed and partial regrowth of the nail, infection, and rare anesthetic complications, disfigurement, lameness, long healing time in cats who are older, psychological trauma, inability to climb, etc. Amputating a claw, which is a very important part of the animals anatomy, …show more content…
Owners have the ability to chose what they feel is best for themselves, their family members, and their cat. If making the choice to have a cat declawed because it is exhibiting destructive behaviors such as clawing the brand new couch, scratching young children, or injuring the elderly grandmother with very thin skin on blood thinners, the utalitarian theory suggests that declawing the family cat is morally appropriate because it will “produce more total utility for the group than any other alternative” (Boylan, 2000). This theory ensures that everyone is happy. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are arguments against this theory. For example, a veterinarian who refuses to perform onychectomy based on the argument that nature is good, and that God created nature, therefore God is good and nature is good. Naturally, a cat is born with claws. These claws are used not only for scratching, but according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a cats claws are “a means of stretching and using the muscles of the forelimbs, shoulders and torso. It has been suggested that declawing eliminates the normal isometric resistance associated with the claws pulling against a stationary surface and so may produce weakening of these muscles”. Based on scientific evidence of natural behavior, a veterinarian may choose not to

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