What is declawing?

This is how the operation is performed:

  • The cat is given a general anesthetic
  • The fur around the feet is clipped
  • A tourniquet is placed around the leg.
  • The nails are rinsed with alcohol.
  • The nail is amputated with a guillotine nail cutter, which cuts across the first joint and may also involve the foot pad.
  • The toes are then bandaged tightly to prevent hemorrhaging.
  • The bandage is removed about three days after the operation.

Physical and Emotional Complications of Declawing:

  • If the entire nail bed was not removed, one or more of the claws will begin to regrow. These claws that do regrow are usually misshapen and generally useless.
  • The bone can shatter and cause what is known as a sequestrum, which can lead to infection and continuous drainage from the toes. This condition can only be fixed with a second general anesthetic and surgical procedure. Any time anesthesia is used in an operation, there is a risk for any pet.
  • If the bandages are put on too tight, the foot can become gangrenous and this can lead to amputation of the leg.
  • Many declawed cats begin to hemorrhage when the bandages are removed, which can require rebandaging.
  • A declawed cat can become very hesitant and fearful of its owner, as well as of veterinarians. In most cases, declawed cats can be very difficult to examine and treat for other illnesses that may arise.
  • Declawed cats are more likely to bite when they feel scared or threatened. They can be easily made anxious and nervous.
  • Declawed cats feel intense pain when they first walk on their paws after the operation, and this can last for weeks post-operation.
  • Many chronic physical ailments, such as cystitis and skin disorders, can be traced to the time period immediately following the declaw operation.

Alternatives to Declawing:

  • Purchase a pair of cat nail clippers and clip your cat's nails every two or three weeks. This does not harm your cat and is not painful for them. If you need assistance, ask a veterinarian or a shelter staff member or volunteer to show you how to clip a cat's nails.
  • Soft Paws is a product which is made of plastic and covers a cat's nails with a safe, non-toxic adhesive. It is entirely painless and can be done by you at home, or at a veterinarian's office. Soft Paws can be purchased at any pet store or through your vet.
  • Cats find scratching to be a normal, natural, pleasurable behavior. Purchase a good, sturdy scratching post and train your cat to use it. You can make the post more fun than your furniture by using catnip or toy mice. Praise your cat and stroke them when they use the scratching post. You can make the post more attractive and accessible to them by placing it near their food, water or sleeping place. Cats love heights so try placing the post in a high, accessible area as well.
  • Discourage your cat from scratching the furniture by spraying a fine mist of water on them when they try to scratch the furniture, or by clapping your hands or making a loud, distracting noise. Then pick the cat up and take them to their scratching post and get them to use it by pushing their claws against the post.
  • If you have a cat that stubbornly insists on scratching your favorite couch, you can discourage him with double sided tape, aluminum foil or a piece of plywood or clear hard plastic.