Feline declawing (also known as feline onchyectomy) is an elective surgical procedure offered by Capeside Animal Hospital. Before performing a declaw, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this procedure with each client, as this is a permanent alteration in your cat's defense mechanism. We limit this procedure to the front limbs and will not declaw the hind limbs unless medically necessary (i.e.: self mutilation). Other alternatives to declawing, such as Soft Paws® (www.softpaws.com), are encouraged prior to declawing.
Declawing involves amputating the last joint of each “toe”. Each cat receives a nerve block on both front paws prior to the procedure. A nerve block is an injection of a local anesthetic (bupivacaine, similar to lidocaine) that is injected around the nerves that supply feeling to your cat's paws. When your cat wakes up, it will not feel its paws, and therefore, not experience pain. The procedure is done using a laser; therefore, there is less pain, less bleeding, less swelling, and a reduced risk of infection. Once the claw is removed, the skin is closed on each “toe” with a topical tissue adhesive. Please note, there are no tourniquets or bandages used for this procedure. Pain medication is administered before and after surgery, and your cat will go home with a 3-day supply of oral pain medication. We advise using shredded paper or Yesterday's News® (www.yesterdaysnews.com) in the litter box (in place of litter) for 2 weeks after surgery. This will help prevent litter from sticking to the incisions and decrease post-operative infection.
Declawing is performed on kittens as young as 12 weeks of age. We recommend cats 5 years of age and older not be declawed. In our experience, older cats tend to have longer recovery periods, experience more pain and stress, and are at increased risk of infection.