Declawing Cats

This blog is about the barbaric procedure known as declawing or onychectomy.

What is Declawing?

Declawing is not just removing a cat’s claws. It’s actually an amputation surgery where the cat’s first joint is removed along with the nail bed. This is so the claw doesn’t grow back.

Behind-the-Scenes

Prior to the cat’s procedure, the cat comes into the veterinary hospital for a fentanyl patch placement. This is usually done 24 hours beforehand. Not all veterinary hospitals use fentanyl patches for pain control.

The day of the procedure, the cat is anesthetized and may be given a preanethetic (as long as it doesn’t cancel out the affects of the fentanyl patch.)

The cat’s paws are shaved – free of fur, scrubbed, and a tourniquet is placed on whatever leg the technician/veterinarian will be working on. This is to prevent bleeding from the toe amputation.

The cat’s toe is clipped off at the first joint using sterile guillotine clippers, the joint is then sutured and sometimes skin glue is used. At the hospital I used to work at, the technician also gave the cat a pain block in each toe for extra pain control. (This is also not normally done.)

Once all of the claws have been removed, the cat’s paws are bandaged. CATS DON’T LIKE STUFF ON THEIR FEET. They are woken up from the anesthesia and then placed in ICU.

Monitoring Post Declaw

As an ICU tech, I monitored a lot of cats post-declaw. I needed to make sure their bandages stayed on their paws, that there was no blood seepage, that the bandages weren’t on too tight, that the cats were comfortable – not in pain, screaming and thrashing around in their cages.

When fentanyl patches came into the veterinary practice, and we started using it on our cat declaw patients – it was a vast improvement for pain control! As were the pain blocks. But before those two were used, those poor cats. 😿 I was constantly trying to get their pain under control. It was awful to watch them even when they weren’t in pain, trying desperately to get those bandages off their feet.

The Next Morning

Then the cat needs to have the bandages removed. Oh my gosh. Trying to get a bandage off of a cat without causing it more undue stress and pain… not easy.

Then there’s the post operative care… the owner needs to use shredded paper in the litter box for at least two weeks post surgery, monitor for any bleeding, continue pain control, etc.

No Defenses

If a declawed cat ever gets outside, they have no weapons to fight off any wildlife. They are sitting ducks.

Is It OK To Declaw?

There are some circumstances when someone may need to declaw their cat. If it’s a life-death situation, then yes, I’d say go for it. But all four paws? No.

I hate declawing. But if a cat is going to be euthanized… Or an older person is being scratched… then make sure you ask that the cat gets a fentanyl patch placed on 24 hours before the surgery.

Tendonectomy

I’ve never had any of my cats declawed, but one of my cats did get a tendonectomy. It’s less painful for the cat, and they still need their nails trimmed. But with this surgery, the cat isn’t able to retract it’s claws or use them as weapons. I didn’t have this surgery done to protect me, but rather to protect anyone that came near him.

Kit Kat was a grouch to everyone but me. He was vicious, ferocious. He was an attack cat. When he got diabetes, he had to go to the clinic often for blood draws to check his blood sugar. He knew how to bite, scratch, and make people very scared of him. Having the tendonectomy, my colleagues had an easier time handling him. He didn’t need to be anesthetized as often as before. I certainly didn’t want to euthanize him just because he could sink his claws into someone.

What About Soft Paws? 🐾

These seem like a waste of money to me. If your cat will sit while you glue plastic nail caps onto his/her nails, why not just trim your cat’s nails down? What’s to prevent the cat from attempting to chew these off?

Further Reading

Worse than a manicure

Onychectomy

Pet Web MD

Has anyone used soft paws? What are your thoughts? 👍👎?

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