Laser Declawing for Your Cat

The American Association of Feline Practitioners strongly believes that it is the obligation of veterinarians to provide cat owners with complete education with regard to feline onychectomy (declawing). There are significant misconceptions about normal feline behavior, and veterinarians are routinely presented with questions.  The following points are taken from the American Association of Feline Practitioner’s Position Statement on Declawing.

Scratching is a normal feline behavior, is a means for cats to mark their territory both visually and with scent, and is used for claw conditioning (“husk” removal) and stretching activity.

Owners should provide suitable implements for normal scratching behavior. Examples are scratching posts, cardboard boxes, lumber or logs, and carpet or fabric remnants affixed to stationary objects. Implements should be tall or long enough to allow full stretching, and firmly anchored to provide necessary resistance to scratching. Cats should be positively reinforced in the use of these implements.

Appropriate claw care consisting of trimming the claws every 1-2 weeks should be provided to prevent injury or undesired damage to household items.

Temporary synthetic nail caps are available as an alternative to onychectomy to prevent human injury or damage to property.

Surgical declawing is not a medically necessary procedure for the cat in most cases.  While rare in occurrence, there are inherent risks with any surgical procedure including, but not limited to: anesthetic complications, hemorrhage, infection,  pain,  and the side effects of pain medication.

The surgical alternative of tendonectomy has been considered by  some veterinarians and owners to provide unsatisfactory and  deleterious results due to the overgrowth of nails, the need for more extensive claw care to be provided by the owner than if not performed, and the development of discomfort in some patients.

The AAFP reviews scientific data and supports controlled scientific studies that provide insight into all aspects of feline medicine. The AAFP recognizes that feline onychectomy is an ethically controversial procedure; however there is no scientific evidence that declawing leads to behavioral abnormalities when compared to control groups. There is scientific data that shows that cats who have undesired claw behavior are more likely to be euthanized, or more readily relinquished, released or abandoned, thereby contributing to the homeless cat population. Where scratching behavior is an issue as to whether or not a particular cat can remain as an acceptable household pet in a particular home situation, the decision to perform surgical onychectomy should be undertaken.

In households where cats come into contact with immunocompromised people, extensive education about zoonotic disease potential should be discussed and documented. Surgical onychectomy is an option in such households.

LASER DECLAWING …… there is a difference.

After alternatives are considered, if the decision is made to declaw your cat, we here at Cats Only Veterinary Clinic will do everything possible to minimize any pain and discomfort associated with the procedure.

First and foremost, we use a laser to perform the surgery to minimize bleeding, seal nerve endings, reduce swelling and eliminate the need for post-operative bandaging.

Appropriate pre-operative and post-operative pain medications are used on all patients.

Preoperative blood tests, modern anesthesia, and constant anesthetic monitoring greatly reduce the risks of surgery.

The procedure itself involves the surgical removal of the last section of the digit from which the nail grows, similar to the part of your finger from the fingernail back to the first bend.  The skin over the site is then closed with stitches.

Although we do not encourage declawing, we also have no reason to discourage you from declawing your cat.  In our experience, when properly performed, declawing has not been known to alter the physical appearance of the paw other than the loss of the claw, nor alter the personality of the cat.