Having a cat declawed is a major surgery known as onychectomy, performed
under anesthesia, that removes the tip of each digit (from the first knuckle
out) of the cat's forepaws. There is a slight chance of death in the
surgery, and a declawed cat may have an increased risk of infection and
life-long discomfort in its paws. This surgery is not recommended for an adult
animal and is considered an act of animal cruelty in some countries.
Cats are declawed to prevent them from hunting and from damaging furniture.
Video - Cat after declawing
Veterinarians are generally critical of the procedure and some refuse to perform
it because the absence of claws in a cat cause the following:
- Deprives the cat of its main defense abilities, including escaping from
predators by climbing trees
- Impairs the cats stretching and exercise habits, leading to muscle
- Compromises the cats ability to balance on thin surfaces such as
railings and fence tops, leading to injury from falls
- Can cause the cat insecurity and a subsequent tendency to bite
An alternative to declawing the cat is the application of blunt, vinyl nail
caps that are affixed to the claws with nontoxic glue, requiring periodic
replacement when the cat sheds its claw sheaths (about every four to six weeks).
However, the cat will still experience difficulties because the capped nails are
not as effective as claws.
After the cat has been declawed, it should be allowed to rest, and restrained
from for a few days. After declawed the cat will, it will go through a
period when being played with or picking it up may hurt it. This usually lasts a
week or less. While some people suggest that cats should not be declawed until
5-6 months of age, many veterinarians who practice this surgery are of the
opinion the cat can be declawed as soon as it is old enough to sustain surgery
(around 2-3 months of age, depending on size). The reasoning behind it is that
younger cats are more adaptable to the amputation, and the fact that distal
phalanges in the cat at this age are still cartilaginous may make the operation
somewhat less painful.