Cat Declaw Litter: The Best Litter Materials for Recovery Time

One sometimes-overlooked aspect of cat declaw recovery is the need for your pet's litter box to have different and softer filler material in it during her recovery period so she can use the box comfortably while her feet heal from the operation.

Your cat will likely stay at your veterinarian’s office for a day or so following her surgery to give her doctor a chance to monitor her incisions for possible infection and manage her post-operative pain. She may continue to be in pain for a week or so as her toes heal, and it may take her a month to completely recover from the procedure.

A follow-up veterinary visit may be needed for your cat to have her stitches removed if her incisions were sewn shut. In many cases, veterinarians use surgical glue to close declawing incisions, so a follow-up visit may not be required.

Why the Box Filler Needs to Change Temporarily

Two important reasons are behind the short-term change in box filler. First is the possible reduction of pain for your cat as she digs her front paws into the filler, and second is the reduction of potential infection in your cat’s toes as they heal.

If your cat comes to associate the act of digging in the litter box with pain, she may become less likely to use the box, so it’s important to help her feel as comfortable as you can during her recovery.

In extreme cases, some declawed cats are unable to return to using the litter box comfortably after their operations because their discomfort level is so high as they dig in the box. They instead eliminate on smooth surfaces such as floors or carpets, which leads to frustration for both owner and cat, and may result in the cat being rehomed.

What to Put in the Litter Box

If possible, replace your cat’s normal litter with shredded newspaper, pelleted litter made from recycled newspaper or natural materials such as wheat or corn, silica-based litter or other non-granular litter for a month following the surgery. The idea is to provide something softer than the normal litter for your cat to scratch in as her toes heal. These softer litters are also less likely to become caught in the incisions on your cat’s toes, which reduces the chance of her developing an infection.

If your cat won’t use anything but her normal litter during her recovery, you’ll need to be alert to the times she uses the litter box and wash her paws off carefully with saline solution afterward to remove litter from her toes and feet.

What Not to Put in the Litter Box

To help protect your pet’s comfort and health, do not use clay-based, sandy or clumping litters that could stick or clump between your pet’s toes or in her surgical incisions. Use these types of litters after your cat has recovered completely from her declawing surgery.