It’s a procedure receiving increased scrutiny and notoriety in the 21st century. It has also been highly publicized during various Ate attempts to outlaw it. It’s the cat declaw. Many heated opinions and myths surround the procedure. When I discuss declawing their kitten with owners, I anticipate one of two responses: “Can you do it today!?!” or “Oh no, that’s so cruel.” That’s hyperbole but it illustrates there are two greatly opposed positions on the matter. I’m not much of a middle-of-the-road minded veterinarian Veterinarian’s but this topic certainly falls in my gray zone. Here’s to controversy: I perform declaws and I am not ethically opposed to the procedure. And here’s why:
- Declawing removes the entire toe.
- The bone is always cut during the procedure causing tremendous pain.
- Declawing causes life-long pain.
- Declawing is painless.
- Declawing breaks the human-animal bond.
- Laser surgery is painless surgery.
- The cat will begin biting because it has lost its defenses.
- Most declawed cats will develop cheap mlb jerseys some type of severe behavior complication wholesale nfl jerseys as a result of the surgery.
- The cat will certainly get an infection post-operatively.
- Cats cannot be trained to use a scratching post. They will definitely destroy your furniture if you don’t have them declawed.
- Declawing is painful. There is no such thing as a painless declaw. The degree of discomfort is up for debate.
- Declawing removes part or all of the 3rd phalanx (P3), or tip of the toe.
- The bone and claw can be spared with a tendonectomy, a procedure that cuts the tendons supporting the nail, though cats are more likely to get their nails wholesale mlb jerseys caught in scratching materials due to lack of the ability to retract their claws. With this procedure there is a chance the nail, when not properly trimmed, can curl into the toe pads.
- Declawed cats usually completely recover in 1-2 weeks but in rare cases discomfort can be seen for up to two months following surgery.
- Most veterinarians are conscientious of the varying degrees of pain declawing may cause and use strict prolonged hospitalization and pain medication protocols. My own practice requires a three night stay with cats receiving continuous narcotic pain patches.
- Having had laser surgery myself, I assure you it is not painless. It may allow for decreased pain or a faster recovery time, but it is NOT painless. Laser surgery is more expensive due to the cost of the Máy technology.
- Most declawed cats have no idea they are declawed. Felines credited with advanced cognitive ability are the same ones standing up “scratching” the molding, sofa, drapes. Perhaps a higher thinking human would resort to biting, cats generally do not. No significant correlation has been shown between declawing and inappropriate behaviors like biting and urinating outside the box. This was shown in a 2001 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. (1) Plenty of anecdotal evidence circulates the web concerning development of severe behavior problems, but to the best of the author’s knowledge, no scientific evidence has been reported.
- There is a small chance of complications following surgery. Infection, excessive bleeding, and an extended Euthanasia recovery period are rare.
- Older cats tend to take longer to return to normal function than younger cats. Extra weight probably makes weight-bearing more uncomfortable in the initial post-op period.
- Scratching is a natural behavior all cats engage in and that behavior won’t be stopped, however, a cat can be trained to scratch on appropriate substrates. It is typically easier to train a kitten than an older cat who may have developed an affinity for furniture.
The Procedure: There are multiple ways to perform a declaw but whatever way you choose proves a simple procedure. I prefer the disarticulation method using a scalpel blade to incise the digit on the soft tissue fold at the joint between the 2nd and 3rd phalanx. I cut the ligaments on either side of the joint. When performed properly, Toronto the bone itself is not cut unlike what can occur using the guillotine method where P3 is cut at the base removing the nail but sometimes leaving a small piece of the bone behind. P3 is then completely removed and surgical tissue glue, sutures, and/or bandages can be used post-op. Laser surgery involves burning tissue and sealing the hemorrhage while cutting through the digit.
The Opinion: Declawing cats is an elective procedure. Most owners know whether or not they want to declaw their cat before the surgery is discussed. For those who don’t and seek an opinion, I offer the above facts and myths concerning declawing. I encourage them to begin trimming their new kitten’s nails regularly, encourage scratching posts, and encourage environmental enrichment prior to making the decision. I always address the surgical procedure in depth with my clients. Once the decision to declaw is made, I recommend declawing at spay/castration in order to minimize the number of anesthetic procedures and because kittens/young cats recover faster.
It is critically important to ensure proper pain management post-op. Because we can never be sure how painful the procedure truly is, all cats who are declawed should have post-op pain medication.
The temporary discomfort post-op far outweighs relinquishment to the shelter because the cat is destructive. Having been in a shelter situation in the past, it is heart breaking to see owners relinquish their pets due to destructive behavior knowing those animals have an equal shot at certain death versus a new home. The discomfort even outweighs making the cat an “outdoor” cat who runs the risk of being hit-by-car, contracting FelV or FIV, coming home with bite wounds, or not returning home at all – all things I see much more commonly than severe post-operative complications from a declaw.
The Alternatives: Nail are trims every couple of weeks and appropriate scratching substrates are the two easiest ways to squelch inappropriate scratching. These are best implemented in young kittens who are learning behaviors. Another alternative is the application of nail caps, the most popular brand called wholesale jerseys Soft Paws, which are glued on the nail and fall off after a period of time much like a woman’s acrylic nails. These work very well in cats patient enough to sit through the application process. Soft Paws are not always the answer. The major issues I have encountered with them include: cats removing caps, individual caps falling off leaving some nails exposed and some capped, and the length of time it takes to apply them. If you have a cat patient enough to sit through a Soft Paws application, you most likely have a cat who will tolerate a nail trim instead. Nail trims are much easier and less time consuming.
(1) Attitudes of owners regarding tendonectomy and onychectomy in cats. Seong C. Yeon , James A. Flanders , Janet M. Scarlett , Stacey Ayers , Katherine A. Houpt Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association Jan 2001, Vol. 218, No. 1: 43-47.