Declawing Your Cat
As a concerned cat owner, the decision to declaw your cat or kitten is a serious one to which you have probably given a good deal of thought. Cats are generally declawed because they are causing problems with their scratching behavior. Sometimes, a cat will repeatedly sharpen its claws on furniture. Repeatedly sharpening the claws can damage upholstery and woodwork. While the cat is just following its instincts, if this continues, furniture will have to be replaced or re-upholstered.
At times, a cat may be somewhat aggressive and will scratch children or other pets. While an isolated incident can probably be tolerated, if your cat persists in this behavior, obviously something must be done. Cat scratches can become infected, and no one wants their children exposed to this hazard. Rather than having to place the cat in a shelter, declawing will allow your cat to remain in the home and will eliminate the source of the trouble.
If you do decide to declaw your cat, the best time to do this is when your cat is still a kitten. Because the cat’s feet will be sore after declawing surgery, the slighter weight of a kitten will cause less stress. It has also been found that declawing a kitten allows the pet to heal more quickly than if you have the declawing procedure done on an adult cat. It is usually recommended to declaw your cat when they are spayed or neutered at 6 months; however, your cat can be declawed as early as 3-4 months as long as they are over 5 pounds.
Declawing a cat using the older procedure was a process that often could cause the cat a deal of post operative discomfort. Sometimes, the toe pads were slit to remove not only the claw mechanism itself, but also some of the bone. If the bone that the claw was attached to was not taken off in part, there was the chance that the claw could grow back. A better procedure was cosmetic declawing, in which a small blade was inserted that would scoop out the claw and a small piece of bone. This technique was much less invasive and the toe pads were untouched. However, the declawing procedure has advanced even beyond cosmetic declawing with the use of the radiowave declawing procedure.
Radiowave surgery is superior even to laser surgery as it does not generate heat. The incisions in the cat’s foot will be made by a needle that generates radiowaves. The radiowave declawing technique will generate only a minimum of tissue damage. Bleeding will be lessened as the needle will cauterize the surgical site. And, perhaps most importantly, there will be much less pain involved using radiowave surgery for your cat’s declawing procedure. Your cat will generally remain in the hospital for several days after surgery and be given medications to alleviate pain. Upon release, pain relief medication will also be dispensed. Radiowave surgery will help your cat return to full health and activity in the shortest possible time. The first knuckle, to which the claw is attached, is not a weight bearing joint, so removing all or part of this will not affect your cat’s ability to run and walk as soon as the healing process is complete.
After your cat comes home from its declawing procedure, you will have to take some special care to ensure that its paws heal as quickly as possible. The paws will be bandaged to begin with, and you must take care that the cat does not try to remove the bandages. After the bandages are removed, your cat will undoubtedly try to lick its paws or chew on the sutures. Once again, you must make sure that your cat leaves its paws alone. Taking the time to hold your cat more at this time will help this. Also, as ordinary cat litter can get into the incisions and cause problems, it is important to use shredded paper or oatmeal litter for two weeks after the declawing procedure. There are even commercial paper litters available for your cat.
It is generally only the front claws of a cat that are removed. As mentioned above, the cat does not put any weight onto the end joint of the front feet. It is different with the back feet, as the weight of the cat does go onto the joint that contains the claw. This procedure is the one most often associated with complications, so should be discussed in detail with your veterinarian.
Once your cat has been declawed, it can never go outside again, it will be completely defenseless. Not only will it be unable to scratch an attacker to defend itself, but it will also be unable to climb a tree to escape from a dog or other animal. Your cat will be exclusively an indoor cat. If you have other pets, you must make sure that your declawed cat is not picked on by them. If your declawed cat or kitten is an only pet, these considerations will be no problem.
Many people worry about declawing their kitten or cat. While this is a surgical procedure that must be performed under anesthesia, modern veterinary practices have made declawing as safe as possible. Blood tests will be performed beforehand to make sure that you cat is not anemic or suffering from a blood ailment. Bear in mind that your cat will feel less postoperative discomfort if the radiowave technique is used. This is not an overly invasive technique, so healing will occur quickly. Medications to control pain will also be given to the cat after declawing.
The author of this article has met with and played with a declawed cat. I can state unequivocally that this cat was no different in playfulness or activity with any other cat. The cat did not seem to be bothered in any way by the fact that it had no front claws. This was a normal, healthy cat. If the owner had not told me that this cat had been declawed, I never would have known from its behavior.