What should I know before declawing my cat?
Deciding to remove your cat’s or kitten’s claws is a big decision and should not be taken lightly. Here are some things to know about declawing and how it might affect your pet:
- May alter personalities (result in bad or aggressive behaviour - like biting)
- Cat claws are attached to bone (more like fingertips than fingernails)
- Recovery can be complex or difficult (checking in regularly post-operation is necessary to ensure a smooth recovery process)
- Should be the last option as there are multiple alternatives (training, scratching posts, regular nail-clipping, etc.)
- Potential further complications
What should I know about the procedure?
Before completing any procedure at Dr. Phillips, our vet and staff will walk you through the process, potential complications, post-surgery care, and will be happy to answer any of your questions. At Dr. Phillips, we use a blade declawing procedure using delicate care and years of experience. Primarily, we remove only the front paw claws. Rarely (if not ever) do we remove all four. The procedure entails an incision on each toe to remove each claw carefully while another staff is monitoring and tracking your pet’s pulse, blood pressure, and vitals. This allows us to maximize their safety and comfort through the procedure.
After removal, these incisions are typically closed using dissolvable sutures, followed by a recovery process. We strive to make the procedure as quick, painless, and safe as possible.
What should I know about the recovery process?
The recovery process is usually between 2-6 weeks after the operation.
Paws are bandaged up for 24hrs immediately following the operation. Carefully monitoring their recovery during this time, we provide them with sedative or pain medicine if they are in distress or experiencing large levels of pain. The following day, after the dressing is removed, your cat is kept for a specific period of time while they recover and adjust. This is to allow us to track their recovery and ensure they get the proper type of rest needed so they can get back to bouncing on all four paws as soon as possible. During their recovery process, it is recommended to use shredded paper over kitty litter due to the sensitivity of their paws.
Why should I declaw my cat?
If behavior and environmental modification efforts fail, declawing your cat can ensure the safety of your family, pets, or property. For your family, this could be for the safety of your infant, elderly, or family members with health issues (such as chemotherapy patients with a compromised immune system) that cannot risk infection from a scratch.
In some situations, your vet may recommend your pet to be declawed for their own safety, such as in the case of a tumor, chronic infection, or other health complications that require being declawed.
When should I declaw my cat?
Pet owners often choose to declaw their pets to protect furniture, property, pets, family, or for the pet’s safety. We recommend declawing your cat while they are still kittens between the age of 3-8 months, usually at the same time they are spayed or neutered between 5-6 months. This is recommended as they will recover quicker at this age and run a lower risk in experiencing complications.
We recommend choosing to declaw your cat in one of the following situations:
- Medically necessary for their health to relieve pain, infection, or illness
- Threatens the safety of a family member
- Training, behavioural, and environment enhancing efforts have proven unsuccessful curving bad behaviour
- Last option before euthanasia or relinquishment
When should I not declaw my cat?
If your cat is primarily an outdoor cat, we do not recommend declawing your cat. Claws are a cat’s natural defense. Without claws, their safety is put at risk if they come across aggressive cats, dogs, or other wildlife while outdoors. Generally, once a cat is declawed, they become house cats.
If your cat is older, we do not recommend declawing your cat. The experience can be traumatic and painful for your pet at an older age, which is why declawing is recommended when they are still kittens.