Feline Onychectomy (Cat Declawing) Pros and Cons

Before opting for a cat declawing procedure, consider the pros and cons. 

Cat Declawing Surgical Procedures

A human's nail is actually a type of skin and if torn off, the nail will grow back. Cat's claws attach to bone. During a declaw surgery, the bone that the nail attaches to is removed permanently.

Cats have three sections on each toe. During a declawing procedure, a section of bone is amputated. Along with this amputated bone, called the third or distant phalanx, a section of tendon and ligament is also removed.

There are three form of cat declawing surgery:

  • Laser: Laser is used to remove the section of toe, ligaments and tendons.

  • Resco Clipper: Clippers quickly cut off the section of toe, ligaments and tendons.

  • Scalpel: A scalpel is used to cut the ligaments and tendons and then separate the bone section for removal.

Laser is considered the safest method, but it is also most expensive. Most veterinary offices use the Resco clipper method because it is fast and more cost effective. Expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $500 for a surgery depending on the method used and the pain medications administered after the feline declawing.

Pros to Having a Cat Declawed

There are benefits to having a cat declawed. If your cat is damaging your furniture or other household items, a declawing surgery will put an end to the expensive of reupholstering or replacing shredded sofas, chairs, curtains and carpeting. A declaw procedure does cost far less than recarpeting or refurnishing a room.

Cat scratches can cause health issues in humans. Cat scratch fever is a possibility. If your immune system is compromised, a declawing can help you keep your cat without risking your health.

By nature, cats scratch and knead carpeting to mark their territory. Cats have scent glands in their paws. If they don't have claws, they cannot damage your carpeting.

Cons to Cat Declawing

A declawing surgery is painful, no matter what method is chosen. Watching cats that have been declawed walking gingerly on their paws for days or weeks following a surgery is proof that the pain doesn't quickly disappear.

While many cats recover from their onychectomy surgeries, there are reports of cats remaining lame for months and years following the surgery.

Once a cat is declawed, he loses his protection. All declawed cats must be kept inside for their safety.

Following a declawing surgery, there is a risk for infection. Most veterinarians ask you to change the cat litter to prevent possible problems with cat litter getting into the healing incisions.

With the Resco clipper surgery, if any of the bone is left behind there is a risk that the claw will regrow. If this happens, a second declawing surgery is required.

Before a declawing surgery, tests should be performed to make sure the cat can handle the surgery, particularly the anesthesia. If this testing is skipped, there is a chance the cat could have a deadly reaction to the medications used during the surgery.