One of the most controversial topics in veterinary medicine is declawing cats.
Onychectomy is the scientific term for declawing. It is a surgical procedure of removing the entire toe nail and nail bed of cat’s paws performed with the patient under general anesthesia. Over the years, many people have argued that this procedure is cruel and unnecessary suffering for cats. The controversy has received national attention with certain state governments actually considering outlawing the surgery. It is difficult to imagine cat owners supporting the radical idea of outlawing declawing. There is no doubt that locally there is a huge demand from cat owners requesting the surgery. Most people that oppose declawing believe that the end result is not worth all the pain and suffering. Granted, the standard procedure using a scalpel to perform the surgery causes significant bleeding, and cats are certainly in pain after the operation.
However, a surgical instrument called a CO2 laser has absolutely revolutionized declawing in cats! Antibiotics and pain medicine may be prescribed for the patient, but laser surgery definitely reduces the potential for infection and pain following surgery. With the older scalpel technique, a tourniquet on the leg is necessary to control bleeding during the procedure. With laser surgery, a tourniquet is not necessary because the laser cauterizes blood vessels as it cuts. Furthermore, the laser cauterizes nerves as it cuts, basically sealing off the end of the nerve greatly reducing pain after surgery. Laser surgery is so effective in preventing post operative pain that no one should stress over the decision of whether or not to have their cat declawed.
The laser technique is so astonishingly better that I strongly believe that all cat declaw surgeries should only be performed with a laser. Cats should not be subjected to the older, more painful procedure of using a scalpel! As a cat owner, you should make sure your cat has the newer, much less painful laser declaw procedure.
It is a proven fact that cats living entirely indoors live much longer than cats that are allowed to go outside. It stands to reason that anyone willing to keep their cat indoors should have the right to have them declawed, which subsequently increases the likelihood of them living longer. Cats instinctively scratch at certain objects. Scratching objects is one of the ways that they mark their territory. Behavioral training may reduce damage to your walls or furniture, but since it is instinct, it would be impractical and unfair to expect your cat to never scratch things. Most people don’t want to have their furniture mutilated by their cat. Certainly, many people can’t afford to replace their furniture if their cat renders it unsightly.
Even more importantly, cats living indoors are more likely to scratch young children or even a baby. Additionally, many older people have very fragile skin that is easily injured causing bruising and bleeding. Cat scratches tend to get infected very easily not to mention the potential for causing “cat scratch disease.” This is a serious and difficult to treat condition caused by an organism called Bartonella often involving lymph nodes.
After having your cat declawed, there are some post-operative care instructions to ensure a safe and speedy recovery for your cat. You should use a special type of litter for 7 to 10 days after surgery.
Dust-free pellet litter is recommended. Never use clumping litter because the small granules of litter can enter or stick to the incision sites causing infection or delayed healing.
It is very difficult to limit a cat’s activity. You should discourage your cat from jumping on furniture or counter tops for the first week after declawing surgery. At least help your cat down if you see them on a counter or tall furniture. Once your cat has been declawed, you should always keep your cat indoors.
Without their claws, they can no longer defend themselves from other animals and have a much harder time climbing a tree to flee from a predator. You should contact your veterinarian if your cat’s paws bleed or swell after they have been declawed. If you are considering having your cat declawed, ask your veterinarian about laser declawing!
If you are considering having your cat declawed, you should ask your veterinarian about the laser technique. In general, declawing cats allows them to live strictly indoors which allows them to live a longer, healthier and happy life!