The Cat Clinic has recently made the choice to stop performing declaws on cats. This has been a decision that our veterinarians and staff have contemplated for quite some time. Medicine has changed dramatically over the past several decades. Many procedures once common in both human beings and animals are no longer performed. We believe that not performing this procedure is the next step in advancing our medicine and patient care.
There are many downsides to declawing a cat.
- Post-operative complications such as infection, wound breakdown, and post-operative pain are common
- Long term pain due to arthritis, “phantom pain syndrome”, and tendon contracture can occur even with excellent surgical technique and pain management
- Declawed cats bear weight differently than intact cats, leading to increased rates of arthritis at distant sites
- Declawed cats may experience behaviour changes making them less confident, more prone to urinating outside the litter box, unable to properly express natural behaviours, and more likely to bite in some situations
Scratching is an essential behaviour to a happy, healthy cat. Cats are territorial and scratching is a way for them to mark their territory so they feel secure in their home. You cannot teach a cat not to scratch, but you can teach them to scratch only in appropriate places. Our goal is to make sure cats scratch WHERE you want them to and not to stop them from scratching. The staff and veterinarians at The Cat Clinic and Village Cat Clinic will be happy to provide advice and resources to prevent destructive scratching in your home.
There are also a variety of options to prevent cats from scratching that are non-surgical. These include nail trimming, “soft-paws” (gel caps which cover nails), synthetic facial pheromones, deterrents, and behavioural modification. Keeping a stimulating environment for your cat is also essential.
Remember that a declawed cat is not a “safer” cat. Declawed cats commonly are more defensive and may bite, which carries a higher risk of disease transmission than scratching. A dewormed, flea-free cat is incapable of causing “cat scratch fever”. We recommend all cats, even those kept indoors, be treated monthly during flea season with a topical parasiticide and be dewormed on a regular basis.
We at The Cat Clinic and Village Cat Clinic take the relationship you have with your cat very seriously. It is our belief that no longer declawing cats allows us to be leaders in feline medicine and surgery. If you have any questions about managing scratching or are having difficulty deciding whether or not to declaw your cat, please stop by our clinic and talk with our veterinary team. Declawing a cat is an amputation of their third digit and it is a major painful surgical procedure. Local nerve blocks, multimodal and lengthy at home post-surgical pain control are required and “laser declawing” is still an amputation and painful. Talk to us first, we are here to help the cats in our community.