Declawing A Cat

"Declawing a cat is usually a last resort if other methods of dealing with a cat's claws do not work such as using a scratching post or claw covers. Claws are usually surgically removed from only the front paws. Most cats tolerate the surgery well with pain being the most common side effect."

Declawing a cat (feline onychectomy) is usually done as a last resort if behavior modification, cat toenail trimming and cat claw covers are not effective.

Declawing is not recommended for cats that live outdoors since the claws help your cat survive outside such as climb and defend herself. Since usually only the front claws are the ones that are causing problems, an owner may opt to leave the rear claws in place.

Declawing a Cat

Surgery is used to declaw a cat. The surgery can be traditional or using laser cat claw removal.

Claws are not pulled out. They are clipped at the point where the cat's toe meets the claw (think if the end of a human finger were clipped at the first joint). Your cat will not feel anything during the procedure since anesthesia is used.

The only difference between laser cat claw removal and regular surgery is that the laser replaces the veterinarian's scalpel.

After surgery your cat's paws will be bandaged. You cat will stay at the vets office until the bandages are removed which can be one or two days. Your cat will be given a prescription medication to help with pain after the surgery. Complications include bleeding, bone chips or pain that doesn't subside. In most cases pain will go away within two weeks.

Most cats tolerate the surgery well. There is some debate as to whether declawing causes future behavior problems. This has not been proven, but is a common belief among training professionals.

Feline Tendonectomy

Another approach is to remove the tendon that helps the claw to extend. The problem with this approach is that the nail continues to grow causing problems later on. Specifically, the nail can grow into the paw.


Complications - Feline Onychectomy
James S. Gaynor DVM, MS, Diplomate, ACVA
Animal Anesthesia & Pain Management Center
Colorado Springs, CO

The Well Cat Book
McGinnis, Terri DVM


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