What is a declaw?
A declaw is the surgical amputation of the last digit of the toe at the joint
This procedure is done under general anesthesia
What are the restrictions and requirements for a declaw?
Cats must be in good general health. As with all surgeries, we require a pre-surgical physical examination and blood work.
Cats must be between 3 months and 2 years of age.
The doctors prefer to do two foot declaws only.
How is the procedure done?
There are several methods for declawing a cat:
We use the clipper method. In this method we use a Roscoe clipper to amputate the last digit of the toe.
After the amputation, the skin over the exposed bone is closed with tissue glue. On older cats we may close the toes with absorbable suture. The feet are then bandaged for 24 hours.
Will my cat be hospitalized?
Your cat will be hospitalized for 2 nights: the night of the surgery, and an additional night after bandages are removed. Occasionally we need to keep a cat longer.
Is this a painful procedure?
Yes, this is a painful procedure. We will administer pain medication before and after surgery, and we will also send medication home with you. Cats will be painful for the first 3-4 weeks and may show signs of discomfort for several months.
How do I care for my cat after we go home?
You may be sent home with an oral antibiotic. Please give it until it is all gone.
Pain medication should be given as directed.
Instead of your regular litter, you will need to use shredded newspaper or Yesterday’s News for 2 weeks. Regular litter can cause infection in the toes.
Your cat must stay quiet for 2 weeks. This means restricted running, jumping or playing with other cats and dogs in the house. Excessive exercise can cause the scabs on the toes to come off prematurely.
We recommend that your declawed cat be kept indoors for the remainder of its life, as the claws are its primary means of defense.
Could there be any complications associated with the declaw?
Yes, there are several possible complications:
Premature glue or scab removal resulting in exposure of bone
Bleeding (may require re-bandaging every 2-3 days)
Chronic pain and lameness (especially if the pad is disturbed or any piece of the 3rd digit remains)
Are there alternatives to declawing?
Clawing is natural, instinctive behavior for cats. Here are several alternatives to declawing:
Scratching posts and boards. Some cats prefer to scratch vertical surfaces so you might try a scratching post, or a scratching board that hangs from a doorknob. Other cats prefer to scratch the floor, so try a scratching mat. In either case, you should lightly rub the surface of the scratching post or board with catnip to encourage your cat to use it.
Nail caps. Soft Paws® are plastic nail sheaths that are adhered with glue and usually stay on for about 6 weeks. They come in a variety of colors and are not uncomfortable for the cat.
Sticky Paws. If your cat has shown an interest in scratching a particular piece of furniture or other surface, try applying Sticky Paws®. Sticky Paws is a double-sided tape that will not damage your furniture or other surfaces. Cats hate the feeling of the adhesive on their paws. Sticky Paws is available in most pet supply stores or at www.stickypaws.com.
Regular nail trims. Trimming your cat’s claws regularly – every 2 weeks – will limit the amount of damage they can do.