Declawing Kittens

"Declawing kittens (feline onychectomy), while possible, is considered to be inhumane by many. Kittens do recover quickly from the surgery which usually occurs between 3 to 5 months of age. The procedure is usually done on the front claws and only for indoor cats. Outdoor cats need all of their claws for climbing and protection. Declawing involves removing the claw which is the last bone of each cat finger. It is considered to be a surgery of last resort after behavior modification, claw covers and scratching posts fail."

Declawing kittens is a practice which is not recommended by the American Association of Feline Practitioners. Their guidelines state the following:

1. Declawing should only be considered after all other solutions have failed or if the cat poses a health risk to a family member (families where one member has a weakened immune system).

2. Scratching is a normal feline behavior which is the way cats mark territory with a scent and for conditioning the claw (removing the covering sheath or husk).

3. Cats must be provided with places where they can scratch such as scratching posts, cardboard boxes, wood, carpet and fabric. See our guide to selecting cat scratching posts and trees.

4. Claws should be trimmed every 1 to 2 weeks.

5. Surgical declawing is not a medically necessary procedure in most cases.

6. Declawed cats should be housed indoors (since cats need claws to survive outdoors).

7. It is acceptable to declaw a cat if it appears that a household cat will not remain in the home if a claw solution is not reached.

8. There is no evidence that declawing leads to behavioral change.

Declawing Kittens

The ideal age for a kitten to be declawed is between the ages of 3 months to 5 months. Kittens are faster to get used to the declawing than older cats.

The operation has the surgeon removing with a scalpel the last part of the bone of each toe. It is as if the last joint was removed on each human finger. An alternative to a scalpel is laser cat claw removal which cuts the joint with a laser instead of the scalpel.

Usually only the front claws are surgically removed since these are the ones that tend to scratch. After the surgery each paw will be wrapped in a bandage and your cat will stay in the veterinarian's office until the bandages are removed.

The operation can be painful and your cat will be given pain medication. Your kittens feet may be sensitive for several days. Ask your veterinarian about using shredded newspaper for litter to keep any ordinary litter particles from entering any remaining wounds.

Remember, consider other alternatives before choosing declawing.


Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine 

Cat Owners Home Veterinary Handbook
Edredge, Debra, Carlosn, Delbert, Carlson, Liisa, Giffin, James


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