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Posted on 01-06-2012

Declawing cats has become one of the most controversial of all the elective surgical procedures commonly performed by veterinarians. There are many people who consider this procedure to be inhumane, harmful to cats, and a form of mutilation. There are some risks from the anesthesia but if done by an experienced veterinarian, there will not be any lasting effects. Contrary to some opinions, declawing is not likely to drastically alter a cat's behavior or personality. On the other hand, it can create a more rewarding bond between cats and owners because owners will no longer have to scold their cats for inappropriate scratching.DSC00990_1.JPG

Scratching is an instinctual behavior for cats. Cat have a tendency to play rough, which can result in scratching their owners. Typically, the main reason people decide to declaw their cat is to protect their furniture. A cat's claw serves to mark their territory. They have scent glands on their paws and when they are scratching, they are also leaving pheromones in the area to let other cats know that they were there. Declawing represents a permanent solution to these undesirable actions.

Although the surgery can be done at any age, many veterinarians will not do it after the ages of 6-12 months since the healing process takes longer on older cats. Many veterinarians recommend having the kittens declawed at the same time as their spay/neuter so the cat does not have to go under anesthesia a second time. There are many different techniques that veterinarians use in a declaw. Declawing a cat is most commonly done one of two ways: excisional method or guillotine (clipper) method.

The excisional method removes the last bone of the toe. The claw extends from this bone. It is similar to the small bone that the human fingernail covers. This can be done with a scalpel blade or with a laser.

The guillotine method is done with a nail trimmer that severs the P3 bone in half, removing the claw and end part of this bone.

SQUICH33_1.JPGA third technique, called tenotomy, is not a declaw, but a surgical procedure where the tendons that operate the claw are cut, but the claw remains. Care must be taken after this procedure to keep the nails trimmed, so they do not grow into the pad or get snagged on rugs or furniture.

Declawing your cat is a personal decision and pet owners should learn and understand about other options as well before making their decision.

For more information on declawing or alternative solutions to scratching, please contact our office at Eagle Animal Hospital (610) 458-8789. We serve Exton, Downingtown, Glenmoore and Chester Springs.

 Written by Allyson Kelly, veterinary assistant

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