Thursday, November 3, 2011

Declawing Your Cat

Declawing is a surgical procedure performed on cats in which the toenail and portion of bone from which the toenail grows is removed. The most important thing to understand about declawing is how it will affect your cat and how to care for him or her if they are declawed. Declawing is essentially an amputation, five toes on each front limb, therefore appropriate pain management must be used. Often your cat may need to stay overnight for more than one night to ensure that he or she stays quiet and continues to receive regular pain medication.

Here at Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod, declaws are performed with a surgical laser. The laser works by producing a small but very strong beam of light that works by vaporizing tissue. It seals off nerve endings significantly reducing pain, as well as blood vessels and lymphatics reducing bleeding and swelling. The sanitizing affect of the laser beam also reduces the risk for infection. If you are thinking about declawing your cat, laser surgery is strongly recommended. Even with the laser, your cat should still go home with antibiotics and pain medication for a week or or more following surgery. Special kitty litter, or shredded newspaper, must be used at least one week post operatively in place of your regular kitty litter. Regular litter can stick to your cats paws and get imbedded in their incision increasing their risk for infection.

A cat that is declawed must remain an indoor cat for the rest of it's life. When you remove a cat's claws they lose one of their main lines of defense. Cats use their claws not just for scratching but climbing and gripping as well. Without their claws cats will have very little to protect themselves against all of the predators that live outdoors. There is speculation that cats without claws may bite more than cats who have claws. It could be that cats bite more because they are declawed, or that cats are declawed because they are aggressive, we aren't sure what the exact correlation is. However, cats who are declawed are much easier to find homes for. Homeowners and landlords prefer a cat who is not going to damage their home by scratching. There are so many great cats that need homes currently living in shelters. If being declawed means they can find a home, many people feel declawing is worth it.

If you're thinking about declawing your cat, talk to your veterinarian. They can help you come up with a plan to properly care for your cat, declawed or not. If your veterinarian does not have a surgical laser, we are happy to take referrals here at VACC. Simply give us a call at 508-394-3566.