Declawing Information

This page contains information for people considering declawing their cats.  I am happy to discuss my own views and experiences with declawing, and provide guidance--but I also wanted to offer some others' perspectives.  I have chosen the following information to share because I think it is very clear and concise, and is not full of guilt trips.  I want you to be very clear on what you are considering doing, so that you can make an informed decision.

I have compiled some information from across the web for you here.  I would also suggest doing some Googling of your own. 

The bottom of this page has information about an alternative I STRONGLY endorse trying before you commit to declawing--it is easy, inexpensive, and WORKS.  I would be happy to help!

Make sure to click the settings button on each video and turn up the quality, when available :) 

PLEASE WATCH ALL THE VIDEOS ALL THE WAY THROUGH.  None of them are very long.  I know this isn't exciting, but please respect your kitty enough to educate yourself.

This first video is from Jackson Galaxy--he is a very well known and well respected kitty behavioralist--you may have seen him on TV.  I like his style--he and I share a lot of the same philosophies regarding cats.  He is also very reachable--if you are having a kitty problem you need help with, you can contact him via email, facebook, twitter, he TV show webpage--and get help or a second opinion on how to handle any behavioral issue.

This video explains the procedure. 

Here is a link to a FAQ from The Paw Project, with lots of very good information.  >><<

There are 3 typical surgical procedures performed to do a declaw.  All of them result in the cat losing bone and the claw.  The most common is the use of nail clippers (yes, big dog nail clippers) to cut the ends of the toes off, and then they seal off the bone with super glue.  This is traditionally how it has been done, and is still the way most vets who offer declaws do it.  The cat is put under, the toes are cut off with the nail clippers, the wounds are sealed with super glue, and that is that.  They will bandage the paws, and send the kitty home with some pain killers--which help alieve some of the pain, but not all--which has been heavily documented.  

Laser surgery is a newer way of doing things, and was supposed to be more humane and cause less pain and damage.  It has turned out to be a mixed bag, and success depends largely upon the vet's skill with the laser. If the vet is not really exceptional, just as much damage is wrought on the cat, just with a different tool.  Laser surgery cauterizes (burns) the edges of the wound--which seals it from bleeding, but also slows healing in the area tremendously.

The 3rd method of declawing is by using a scalpel to cut the tissues and structures holding the toe on at the joint.  This is the cleanest form of declaw and causes the least trauma to the area--but leaves the cat walking on what was the joint.  The tissues in the joints were never meant to be used this way.  Still, this is probably the "best" of the declaw techniques.  Unfortunately, not a lot of vets doing declaws are willing to put the time in to this procedure--even though it is probably the one that is best for the kitty.

A 4th procedure leaves the bone and claw intact, but makes them inoperable.  Behavioral and anatomy issues are still present--so this isn't a very good option.

Here are a couple links to a good articles written about declawing--about it's effects on the cat's anatomy.  


>>Declawing: A Physical Therapist Assistant’s Perspective<<

I've had lots of experience with declawed cats--many of the kitties I worked with in rescue were declaws who didn't adapt well.  In my experience, teaching the cat not to scratch or coming up with creative ways to keep them from destructive scratching is usually easier than dealing with a cat having behavioral issues after declawing.  Not all cats will openly, obviously react to being declawed, but more than you would guess in fact do.  Most kitties have some personality changes after the procedure.  These may or may not be acceptable to you.  For some cats, it is a complete change in personality and behavior.  Many cats have litterbox issues after the procedure.  Some have aggression issues, and now that their claws are gone, they turn to their teeth.  Many lose their playfulness.  Many are less trusting.  

Please consider all your options when considering a declaw.

If scratchers aren't working, if training isn't going as planned--talk to me.  I can help you streamline what you are doing.

Have you tried nail covers?  Most groomers offer the service at a reasonable fee, but they are also very easy to do yourself.  I would be happy to help you do this if you are local--or counsel via the web.  I will show you how to trim nails short, and then apply the caps.  They work really well--and the newer ones are awesome--much easier and more durable than the first few versions :)  You can buy them at Petsmart to try, and then I suggest ordering them online or if you are in Phoenix, going to Ryan's to get them very cheap.  I have only had one kitty out of well over a hundred who have tried them not work!  (She insisted on peeling them off, despite extra glue, extra wait time, and bitter tasting sprays.)

Here are two demonstrations of applying nail caps.  The first video is shorter, the second is in depth.  I can't stress enough how EASY these are to do--even these videos make it seem more complicated than it is :)