Onychectomy (declaw) describes the surgical removal of the toenails of a cat. The tiny bones associated with cat’s claws (third phalanges) and the bony processes (ungual crests) from which the nails grow are severed and removed. No sutures are typically placed because tissue glue holds the skin together. Gravel litter should be avoided for 10 days post-op. Shredded newspaper or “Yesterday’s news” is safe litter material during the healing process. Usually only the front feet are de-clawed.
De-clawing is a controversial procedure. Many cat lovers object to having cats de-clawed for humane reasons. Undeniably, it should be a last resort. Cat owners should first try scratching posts to train their cat to sharpen claws appropriately rather than destroying furniture. If the cat persists in clawing furniture, our corporate policy is that the declaw surgery is more humane than euthanasia or giving the pet for adoption, which often results in euthanasia. Declawing can allow a cat who is loved by a family to live with them safely and without destroying home furnishings.
Usually kittens are declawed at the time of neuter or spay, around 5 to 9 months of age. Older cats may be declawed, but the heavier they are, the longer they will experience discomfort and limping after surgery, sometimes as long as 2 or 3 months.
Declawed cats should be 100% indoor cats as they have lost an important mechanism of defense and escape, becoming extremely vulnerable to predator dogs.