Killarney Cat Hospital no longer performs declaw surgeries. We know many of you have shared concerns about this procedure which echo our own concerns. After significant research, and discussion, we have come to the conclusion that we must advocate for our feline friends and we do not feel that declawing is in their best interest. We do not feel the risk of chronic pain is acceptable when there are so many other options to prevent unwanted clawing and scratching behavior.
What is declawing?
It is the amputation of the first phalanx of the digit. In human terms, we would be removing the bone from the fingernail back to the first joint on our fingers.
What are declawing pros and cons?
The only pro for declawing is to stop a cat from scratching objects, furniture or people. The cons of declawing include post operative pain and infections, long term pain or lameness, and sometimes aggressiveness in other forms, such as biting.
What method does the clinic use? (blade, laser, guillotine method)
For ethical and humane reasons, we do not declaw cats at our hospital.
What are some potential complications?
Cats can have chronic phantom pain just like human amputees. Veterinary literature tells us that these complications occur in about 50% of cats post-declaw. Studies have been performed where board certified veterinary surgeons performed declaws under pristine conditions and complications were still noted. Infection is also a complication.
What are alternative to declawing?
We highly recommend environmental enrichment: a sturdy scratching post, cat trees, and cardboard floor scratchers serve to provide our cats with acceptable scratching areas. Tricks such as double sided tape, aluminum foil, or throw covers placed on less acceptable scratching areas are helpful. We also love Soft-Paws here at Killarney Cat Hospital. They are a small plastic caps that are glued over the cats nails. Soft-Paws cause the nails to be blunt and prevent damage to furniture, carpets and other objects during scratching behaviour. Soft-Paws typically last 3-6 weeks, then the nails will require trimming and the Soft-Paws need to be re-applied. Our clinic offers Soft-Paws applications for a fee, or they can be applied at home yourself. They also come in a variety of fun colors.