Cat Declawing: What you need to know about declaw surgery—and the alternatives

With all the kitten adoptions from this year’s kitten season, we are getting a lot of inquiries on declawing. While we expect some amount of climbing the curtains from rambunctious new kittens, when the behavior turns truly destructive, owners call us looking for solutions.

While we will perform a declaw surgery, we do it as a last resort, and only after fully educating our client. So, what do you need to know about a declaw surgery and what are the alternatives?

Let’s start with what a declaw is not. It is not a manicure. It is serious surgery. Your cat’s claw is not simply a nail. In order to remove it, it is necessary to remove the last bone of your cat’s toe.

Declawing is actually an amputation. While we will provide your cat with pain medication, please bear in mind that it is still a painful surgery, with a lengthy painful recovery period. In many countries, including England, Italy, France and Australia, declawing cats has been outlawed.

There are alternatives to declaw that do not require covering all of your furniture in plastic! There is no way to stop a cat from scratching, but you can keep your kitty’s nails trimmed and employ diversion tactics. Just by doing a little online research, you can find all sorts of information on transferring your cat’s attention from the arm of your favorite chair to a more appropriate scratching post. In addition, we often recommend a product called Soft Paws. Our clients have great success with these protective caps—we’ll even put them on for you. Just call and ask us for more information.

Quite simply put, our stand is that declaw is an extreme measure and should only be taken as a last resort. Ultimately our goal is to educate as many people as possible to ensure that each and every kitty is treated with love and respect.

We are very happy to say that we seldom have to perform a declaw. Currently less than 5% of our patients are candidates for a declawing procedure. But on the rare occasion that we do perform this surgery, the kitty is more humanely treated than those cats that get put outside in a dangerous environment due to causing great monetary damages or presenting true health concerns to their owners.

Please call Northeast Animal Hospital to schedule a consultation, and we will be happy to address any questions or concerns you may have, including further options and alternatives.