Declaw...

         or Not?

Declawing remains a controversial topic in companion animal medicine. Declawing is a major surgery involving amputation and is not medically necessary for the cat in most cases.

Orchid Springs Animal Hospital

is Against Declawing

We are strongly opposed to the declawing of cats for the convenience of owners. Declawing of cats, or onychectomy, is the amputation of the last digital bone, including the nail bed and claw, on each front toe. If the surgery is performed correctly and the entire nail bed is removed, the claw cannot regrow. The surgery involves the risk of anesthesia, excessive bleeding and postoperative complications, including infection, and is accompanied by pain that may last from several days to much longer unless appropriate pain control is provided.

Humane Alternatives to Declawing

Scratching is a normal behavior of cats. It conditions the claws, serves as a visual and scent territorial marker, allows the cat to defend itself, and provides healthy muscle engagement through stretching. In many cases, a cat can be trained to scratch only appropriate surfaces. However, a cat's excessive or inappropriate scratching behavior can become destructive or cause injury to people in the home.

Punishment is not an effective deterrent to scratching. However, there are numerous training and management options that can help redirect scratching appropriately:

  • Providing appropriate scratching surfaces, such as dedicated posts and boards that are tall enough to encourage full stretching. What constitutes an attractive surface or location varies by cat, so don't be afraid to get creative!

  • Scenting with catnip may help too.

  • Frequent nail trims - every 1 to 2 weeks

  • Nail caps - replaced every 4 to 6 weeks

  • Positive reinforcement training, beginning with kitten kindergarten if available

  • Pheromone sprays and/or plug-ins

  • Discourage use of inappropriate surfaces by attaching sticky tape or tinfoil