Cat Declawing

Although a common pain point for cat owners, felines often have an inherent need to scratch on a variety of surfaces to shed excess claw materials and ensure their nails remain clean and healthy. And, although the cat may not realize these are destructive behaviors to their owners, they often tend to enjoy this behavior and many cats will continue to do it, even with reprimand. Unfortunately, when these problems continue to occur for homeowners, they likely have two unique options to consider remedying the problem – behavior modification or declawing. 

Like other veterinary hospitals, our goal is to ensure that cat owners find approved surfaces that their cat or kitten can use to sharpen their claws or keep them well-maintained. To do this, our team will work with the cat’s owner to explore all options that are available to ensure their pet is utilizing these appropriate surfaces to their full potential and avoiding the expensive furniture, door frames or other unapproved surfaces that may be inside of their normal home environment. 

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When behavior training does not work out, many cat owners will turn to declawing to address the problem; however, many other reasons could signify the need for cat declawing to occur. Some of these reasons include medical concerns for humans living in the home or stipulations through your living situation in which the cat’s behaviors may not be aligned with the constraints that have been set in place. No matter what your reasons for pursuing cat declawing may be, the team at Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital is here to support your decision and ensure your cat’s best interests are being kept in mind throughout the process. 

What Procedures Are Available for Declawing Cats?

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Cat declawing procedures require the removal of the entire claw. And, since the claw is permanently attached to the cat’s knuckle, this often means that the declawing process will require the removal of the third bone from a cat’s paw. As a trusted veterinary partner, Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital can help provide the most up-to-date and accurate information possible about cat declawing procedures to help pet owners determine if the procedure is the right fit for their feline friend. 

At the current time, there are three medically approved ways to perform cat declawing. Although, it is important to note that not every veterinary clinic or hospital will provide these unique methods to their clients or their cats. Instead, most will have a combination of methods or focus on one method that provides the best results in their experience. 

Some of the possible cat declawing procedures that may be available to pet owners include: 

  • Blade Declawing

    As the oldest and most common method of declawing kittens or adult cats, blade declawing relies on a sliding blade that cuts a straight line directly through the joint between the claw and the rest of the paw. Even though this is the most invasive form of cat declawing, it still is among the most used approaches for veterinarians. 

  • Cosmetic Declawing

    Like blade declawing, cosmetic declawing is completed with a small, curved blade that dissects the claw and the piece of bone it is connected to. This process ensures that the paw pad and soft tissue remain intact and helps promote faster recovery.

  • Laser Declawing

    Unlike the previous procedure types, laser declawing relies on modern technologies to remove the third bone of the cat’s paw. While laser removal may be more expensive than blade declawing, it often has less bleeding or associated pain.

Before deciding to pursue cat declawing procedures, the pet owner needs to verify what is included with the procedure. Often, two main components should be confirmed, the use of nerve block and pain medication, to ensure the safety and comfort of your cat throughout the process and associated healing periods. If you choose to pursue cat declawing through Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital, our team will take every step necessary to ensure your cat remains as comfortable as possible during each step of the process. 

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What Is the Best Age for Cat Declawing?

While cats are capable of being declawed at any age, older cats tend to have a harder time recuperating following the procedure while kittens can quickly bounce back and return to their playful antics. For this reason, most veterinarians recommend that a cat be declawed at the same time as their spay or neuter – or between 5 and 6 months of age. However, the most ideal period to declaw a cat can be between 3 and 6 months of age since kittens can recover quickly and the trauma experienced may not be as severe. 

Depending on the age of your adult cat, it may not be recommended to declaw them because more potential complications can occur during and after the process. Although declawing may not be ideal for every cat, veterinarians can often suggest alternatives that can control the problem pet owners are experiencing without surgical intervention. Taking the time to express your concerns to your veterinarian about their claws, particularly if they are an older cat, can help determine other approaches that may help and keep your cat from having to undergo a procedure that may lead to problems.  

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What Is the Recovery Process After Cat Declawing?

Following a successful cat declawing procedure, most veterinarians will suggest that the animal remains at the facility for observation for around 2 days. During this period, they will continue to treat the wounds created from the removal of the cat’s claws and give them a confined space to begin the healing process. Once the cat has been released to the pet owner, the healing process will need to continue at home and close observation should be kept, ensuring no infection or discomfort is occurring. 

Although many pet owners will want to spend time with their cat immediately after bringing them home, it is important to understand that cat declawing is a surgical procedure, and your pet will need time to rest and heal. Under most circumstances, paper litter should be used for around a week to minimize litter getting into the wound site and pain medication should be given as prescribed, even if the pet is acting normal since cats can hide discomfort. 

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Removal of a cat’s claws takes away their ability to defend themselves from predators. For this reason, any cat that has been declawed should always be kept indoors, for the rest of their life. Remember, it can take time for your feline friend to feel normal and comfortable walking on their paws during the recovery period. Try to ensure you are nurturing and attentive throughout the recovery process to ensure they have the support and resources needed to recover faster. 

Are There Side Effects to Cat Declawing?

While many pet owners are afraid that cat declawing may change the personality of their cats, countless studies have shown that there is no known correlation between these procedures and the overall demeanor of a cat. Although, other notable side effects may occur because of a cat declawing procedure that should be addressed with your veterinarian before any appointment is scheduled. Deciding to declaw your cat should not be taken lightly because the procedure is irreversible. 

While veterinarians take every precaution necessary to ensure a successful declawing procedure, certain side effects may still occur including lameness, back pain, refusal to use a litter box or nerve damage. In many cases, the outcome and potential side effects will depend on the individual cat being treated, their age and overall temperament. Before deciding to pursue cat declawing, take the time to discuss the potential side effects of problems at length with your veterinarian. 

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What Alternatives to Cat Declawing Are Possible?

Cat declawing has become a sensitive issue that divides the pet-owning population. Fortunately, if you don’t think cat declawing is the right fit for your pet, there are many other alternatives that correct problem behaviors that are occurring; although, effectiveness may depend on the overall temperament and age of the cat. If pet owners are unsure about pursuing a declawing procedure, trying some of these alternatives first can help determine the appropriate path to take. 

  • Frequent Nail Trimmings

    One of the most widely recommended alternatives to full declawing, trimming a cat’s nails shorter can help alleviate some scratching. It is important to note, however, that cats will still sharpen short nails and continue using them.

  • Behavioral Training

    Modifying behaviors in cats through training is much easier when they are kittens; however, some adult cats may also find success with behavioral modifications. To do this, pet owners must redirect scratching to cat toys or scratching posts.

  • Environmental Enrichment

    As natural hunters, indoor cats often look for outlets for their playful energy and need for stimulation. By creating an environment that includes toys, cat trees, scratching surfaces and more, the cat will be less stressed and less destructive.

  • Pheromone Sprays

    For pet owners that have cats that claw surfaces out of stress or anxiety, using a pheromone spray on objects that cats frequently scratch can help potentially alleviate some of those behaviors. Speak with a veterinarian for recommended products.

  • Soft Nail Caps

    Available under a variety of brand names, soft nail caps are constructed of vinyl and applied to a cat’s nails with a surgical adhesive. While it may take a few days for a cat to get used to the addition of nail caps, it is a safe alternative to cat declawing. 

Why Choose Advanced Care for Cat Declawing?

Advanced Care is more than just a primary care hospital. Our patients and clients are special to us and are the reason why we always treat everyone who comes to visit as another member of our family each and every time they walk in our doors. We do not treat every patient the same because we understand that each one requires individualized care and attention. 

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Meet Our Doctors

Jennifer Patton
DVM, CVC, CCRT

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Dr. Patton’s decision to pursue veterinary medicine came after she realized that while education and teaching is her passion, it is not something she could do as a career. Veterinary medicine allowed her to combine her love of animals with her love of teaching.

After she graduated from Oklahoma State University with her Doctorate, she practiced in several high volume hospitals in the Tulsa area, developing medical skills with varied case loads and growing her leadership skills.

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Allissa Huckabay
DVM, CVA

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Dr. Huckabay’s love of science and animals naturally led her to a lifelong passion of veterinary medicine. She worked and volunteered at a local veterinary hospital before she furthered her education at Oklahoma State University, graduating in 2016 with her Doctorate.

Dr Huckabay immediately found her home at ACVH, where she is able to create a healthy bond with each of her patients as she experiences all stages of their care with their owners.

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Matt Sellers
DVM

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Matthew Sellers, DVM is a graduate of Oklahoma State University Veterinary Health Sciences, where he also attended his undergraduate studies and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Agriculture through the College of Animal Science. Dr. Sellers was on the Dean's list and Presidents Honor Roll during his time at OSU. After a year of general practice, Dr. Sellers began studying acupuncture through the Chi Institute and completed the course in December of 2016.

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Phillip Adolph
DVM

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Phillip Adolph, DVM is a graduate of Oklahoma State University Veterinary Health Sciences. He also attended OSU for his undergraduate studies where he graduated with a Bachelors of Arts and Sciences in Agriculture through the College of Animal Sciences. Dr. Adolph was on the President’s Honor Roll and was a member of the OSU jazz orchestra. He joined the Advanced Care team immediately upon his graduation in 2019 after doing 6 weeks of externships during his 4th year of veterinary school.

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