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Cat Declawing

Cat declawing: i.e. onychectomy, is nail removal via amputation of a cat’s third and final toe bones. The procedure involves both front paws.

What is declawing?

Declawing is an elective cosmetic procedure. The surgery involves more than simply “cutting the nail off”. It’s a full amputation at the joint of the last bone on each toe. There are many risks involved. It’s highly recommended that you consult with your veterinarian before considering this procedure.

What are declawing pros and cons?


PROS

#1: Medical Reasons = Sometimes, a claw is damaged, and it may be safer and more humane to remove the claw altogether. There is also the possibility that a claw may contain a tumour or other malady, in which case it is beneficial for the affected area to be removed.

# 2 Owner Distress = Some people simply should not be exposed to a cat’s claws. People with suppressed immune systems, blood disorders, and the elderly can’t always deal with a clawed animal.

CONS:

#1 Unnatural for cats = The fact is, cats are born with claws, and many see removing them as a disruption of nature’s order for the animal. Removing a cat’s claws effectively removes its defence mechanism, its way of grabbing and holding things.

#2 Painful for cats = Declawing is surgery, and this surgery can be painful. They are placed on preoperative/intraoperative and postoperative pain medication. Cat’s claws are not like toenails; they are like fingers, and removing them involves the cutting of tissue and bone ( the claw is attached to the last bone unlike human fingernails). It is extremely unpleasant for the cat, especially when they have to walk after the surgery.

#3 Possible Complications = Infection is a possibility in any surgery, but at a higher risk with declawing. Bleeding is another possible postoperative complication. Sometimes claws can even grow back if the surgery isn’t performed correctly, although they will not grow back properly, causing further problems.

#4 My cat is now biting = A lot of cats will become biters after the lost of their claws, they have no others means of defence and will use their teeth every chance they get.

What method does the clinic use?

Here at Mountain Road Animal Hospital the method used for declaws is the surgical laser.

How old does a cat have to be to be declawed?

If you are going to declaw your cat, the best time is between 5-6 months of age. Declaws are usually performed at the same time as the castration or spay. Here at Mountain Road Animal Hospital no dewclaws will be performed on a cat older than the age of 1 unless discussed with the veterinarian/veterinary team

What are some potential complications?

Possible complications consist of infections. It is a possibility in any surgery, potential for bleeding. Neuropathies is another real complication arising from declawing. Sometimes claws can even grow back if the surgery isn’t performed correctly, although they will not grow back properly, causing further problems. Some cats after being declawed will develop behavioural problems, the one most commonly seen is inappropriate urination in the household, biting is another common problem.

What are alternative to declawing?

There are many alternatives to declawing your kitten. Trimming a kitten’s nails is very easy to do and only takes a few minutes. Your veterinarian/veterinary team can show you how to do this properly. If introduced early and often enough most cats learn to accept this. Soft paws are also an option, please discuss any questions you may have regarding this product with our friendly staff. Proving your cat with suitable “scratchers”, using pheromones are other options as well.

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