736 E Main St. Brownsburg, IN 46112 317-858-9700(main) 317-858-9730(fax)
Clinic Hours: M-F 8:00am - 5:30pm, Saturday 9:00am - 12:00pm
What's up with Declawing?
There has been a lot of controversy lately on social media regarding a declaw procedure in cats. Please understand that this article is reflective of my opinion on the matter but I will also try to clarify certain misconceptions regarding this process.
Traditionally, declawing a cat refers to the removal of the last part of the digit of a cat’s “finger” – the part that actually grows the claw. This is performed on the 4 weight bearing digits of each (front) paw and the dewclaw that is non-weight bearing. Historically, this was done w/ either a scalpel blade or type of nail trimmer under anesthesia. The cats tended to be painful for the next several days afterwards and would bleed from the incision sites. Pain medications and techniques at the time were developed to help minimize any discomfort the cat felt post operatively. Most social media posts that I have seen refer to this style of declawing.
Recently in the past several years, many veterinary hospitals have changed their protocol to only use a laser for the declaw procedure. The technique is still the same in terms of removing the last part of each digit, but with the advent of the laser, blood vessels are cauterized instantly and nerve endings are seared to reduce postoperative pain At this hospital, we have seen a tremendous improvement in recovery of all our cats after they have had the declaw procedure done. Bleeding is minimized and many young cats are even walking on their feet by the next morning. I feel that the use of a laser is much more humane given the vast improvement of the patients post op. Despite this, we still use pain medications in cats to help with their recovery and keep them overnight to ensure they are healing well.
Declawing is NOT for all cats. There are several rules we try to follow when determining if a cat should be declawed or not. If a cat goes outside, it should be not be declawed. Ideally, a cat should be between 4-6 months of age for this procedure and if they are to be spayed or neutered, have this done at the same time (thus avoiding a second anesthetic process). Only the front paws should be declawed, not the back paws (this works because most cats only use their front paws for scratching or grabbing).
There are a few alternatives to declawing which work in some cats. A great start is to get a scratching post. Another option is to use soft paws (this a product available at most pet stores) to cover the claws but these must be applied every few weeks.
Trimming a cat’s nails every few weeks like in dogs is another way cats can be prevented from causing damage to the household. Ceva™ also makes a product called Feliway (which we carry at our clinic) which can help reduce stress that cats feel which can result in unnecessary scratching.
In closing, we are here to help enhance the human animal bond. I would personally much rather see a cat in a loving forever home than see it euthanized or thrown out on the street because of an issue with the claws. If you have any other questions regarding this or any other procedure we do at the Pet Clinic of Brownsburg, feel free to call us at (317)858-9700 or visit our website at www.thepetclinicofbrownsburg.com.
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