VWP 2020 Declaw Statement

Submitted by Veterinary Wellness Partners on Tue, 03/17/2020 - 11:52am

Veterinary Wellness Partners

Feline Declawing

At Veterinary Wellness Partners, we are continuously striving to improve our client and patient services.  It is our desire to stay up to date with diagnostics, procedures, and trends within the veterinary community.  One trend that has developed over the past few years is the topic of declawing cats. 

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) strongly opposes declawing as an elective procedure.  While we support the position of the AAFP, we also realize that there are other welfare issues associated with not declawing a cat.  It is our intent to educate owners and evaluate each individual situation and help make the best decision for you and your cat.

The claws are of a cat are a primary means of defense.  In addition, scratching is a normal feline behavior that stimulates the cat.  By scratching, the cat marks his/ territory with pheromones.  He/ she is also providing a form of visual communication to other cats around them.  

There are many alternatives to declawing a cat.  The first method simply involves the time and effort of trimming the claws.  One alternative is temporary, synthetic nail caps.  These cover the nail itself to prevent damage from scratching.    Normal scratching behavior can be encouraged by incorporating scratching posts and other “scratchers.”  There are many ideas, which include boxes, logs, and pads.  A commercial scratch attractant is available to encourage your cat to use the scratching posts.

We feel that it is best to let each cat owner decide whether a surgical declaw is to be performed on their cat.  It is important to be educated on exactly what a declaw procedure entails.  A surgical declaw is a complete amputation of the third phalanx.  If this procedure were performed on humans, it would be a complete amputation at the first knuckle to eliminate the fingernail and associated bone. 

At Veterinary Wellness Partners, we perform surgical declawing of cats as we believe that this procedure can be performed in such a way as to limit complications and to manage pain.  Our procedure requires pain management, including pre-operative medications, local anesthesia, and post-operative pain medications.  We require the use of electrocautery to limit blood loss and to seal small nerve endings during the procedure to further limit pain.

As with any surgical procedure, there are some inherent risks.  The first risk is with the anesthesia itself.  Another risk is short term, or acute, pain.  A third potential complication is infection at the surgical site, since cats begin walking on the surgical site immediately after recovering from anesthesia.  Some rarer, but more long-term risks are lameness, behavioral problems, and chronic nerve pain.

If you elect to have your cat declawed, we highly encourage your cat to remain indoor only.  Declawing takes away their ability to climb, as well as defend themselves against other animals that they may encounter outside.  The postoperative period is vital to long term recovery.  A declaw friendly litter should be use for two weeks to prevent litter from entering the incision sites.  Yesterday's News is a common brand of recycled paper that is made into a cat friendly format.  Though not easy, cats should be confined to limit jumping for a week to ten days following any surgical procedure.