I just read a petition to ban cat declawing in the state of Colorado. This is something that I wholeheartedly agree with. Well, I agree about 95%. I don't think that cats should be declawed. I have 8 cats, they all have their claws. My furniture is intact (except for my leather dining chairs, but I have learned my lesson and the next set-o-chairs will be of a different material) The following is the description of declawing from the petition and I think it's a great summary:
Essentially, you are cutting the top knuckle off of your cats paw. People often mistakenly believe that declawing your cat will stop them from scratching, but in reality all you're doing is making it less likely that your cat will use the litter box and more likely to start biting instead of scratching. To remove the claw they amputate with a scalpel or with guillotine clippers, then the wounds are closed with surgical glue, and then the feet are bandaged. There are many drawbacks to declawing your cat as well, such as: pain in the paw, infection, tissue necrosis (tissue death), lameness, and back pain. When you remove your cats claws it changes the way their feet touch the ground, feeling like the equivalent of wearing an uncomfortable set of shoes. So please, let's put a stop to this!
I have witnessed the act of declawing numerous times while working at different vets. It sucked each and every time. Two of the practices that I worked for would ONLY do front declaws, not the back (unless the circumstances called for it). Post op, the cats were always miserable. They were bandaged to the elbow, they couldn't walk properly, they were in pain, and they just wanted to see their feet. On occasion we would come into them in a cage splattered with blood because they somehow got their bandages off and flailed around so much that they reopened their wounds.
There are some instances where it is necessary though, so I don't believe that banning completely is the answer. If you do that, the cats will have to go to Tijuana with the humans to get cheaper surgeries that they won't do in the states. (Watch the show Botched on E, you will understand what I am talking about)
Here is where I agree that a cat should be declawed:
* If the owner has or develops an immune deficiency disorder (HIV/AIDS, lymphodema, cancer, etc) and their life could be threatened by a cat scratch
* If the cat is polydactyl (extra toes). Not all polydactyl cats have the same amount of toes. There are some that have TINY toes with a full nail in the middle of 2 other toes and that nail almost always grows into the pad because it has nowhere else to go. I fully support declawing that tiny toenail to prevent it from growing into the pad constantly. I actually had to do this for one of my rescue cats.
*The last reason is one that I try to avoid giving advice on, but if an adult cat is HORRIBLE for nail trims. I mean horrible (scratching, biting, spitting, growling, screaming), then I might recommend a declaw. Especially if you tried sedating the cat with drugs beforehand and they still don't calm down. Still on the fence with this one, but there are some cats that just WILL NOT take you restraining them and touching their feet. Sedatives help, but not always.
What I always found interesting is that there are many people that don't even know you CAN clip a cats nails. They just think they are supposed to be declawed, like they are supposed to be spayed and neutered. I have asked people who have called to make declaw appointments, "Have you tried to do nail trims and they are just really bad for it?" Most of the time the response was , "No, I didn't even know that you could do that." (Baffling to me because WE have fingernails that we cut.... cats have nails too....and dogs...and guinea pigs... etc)
Soft Paws are also another option that just glue on to the nails themselves. They don't love it, but they acclimate.
Should declawing be banned? Maybe, but there are always exceptions to the rule.