One of the more controversial topics in the pet owner world is declawing cats. Some owners are staunch supporters of this procedure, while others are fierce advocates. What is the big deal about declawing, anyway? Here are a few facts about declawing.
Scratching is a natural behavior for cats–it is how they keep their nails short and is a way for them to mark their territory. With good training, frequent nail trims, and alternative surfaces, most cats will learn to avoid scratching furniture and walls. Some cats, however, are more resistant to this idea or are fixated on a particular spot. These owners may elect to have their cat declawed.
Declawing, or onchyectomy, removes not only the claw but the entire first bone of each toe; imagine a human hand without all of its fingertips. This is a major surgical procedure, and is very painful for the cat. Generally, cats heal better and have less behavioral issues if the surgery is performed at a younger age–many times the procedure is performed along with a spay or neuter at around 6 months of age.
At Kingsbrook Animal Hospital, we will perform a declawing surgery as a last resort–only after all other measures have failed to curb the behavior. The biggest benefit to performing the surgery here is that we are able to use our surgical laser! The CO2 laser allows the veterinarian to simultaneously cauterize and cut, which makes the declawing less painful for the cat and negates the need for the bandages used after a traditional declaw. Another advantage is that KAH is very invested in pain control for our patients. Our Kingsbrook veterinarians will use multiple types of pain control both before and after the procedure to help keep the cat comfortable. All of our veterinarians and staff are happy to answer any questions about this procedure.