Side effects of declawing cats

Side effects of declawing cats

Going with the common belief, declawing of cats does not mean simply removing their nails. The process is basically a surgery which when tried to explain in human terms, would mean removing every tow up to the extent of the first knuckle. Yes, as cringe-worthy it sounds, it is really that painful. The surgery severs the muscles and tendons which cause pain and discomfort in pets.

Ofcourse there are arguments relating to what is best and there is a list of pros and cons. Irrespective, some veterinarians are strongly against the declawing. In some countries, declawing is illegal. Those who are against say that they believe not to support it because the procedure is cruel.

But it is not only ethics that are the reason for cat owners to think long and hard before declawing their pets. In some cases, the procedure is known to have negative long-term side effects. While most pet owners don’t take the decision to declaw their cats lightly, they should do some deep research into these side effects before making this irreversible decision.

Botched Surgeries

Pet owners may as well try and decide to declaw their cats but it is important for them to be aware the negative side effects. If a surgeon happens to amputate too much or too little, it is possible that the healing process may just not go smoothly which in turn leads to some long-term complications. This may also occur if the surgeon happens to be careless while closing the surgical site.


Haven’t you ever heard the possibility or occurrence of an infection to someone who has just gotten operated? The same is the case with cats as surgical procedures always carry with itself a negative side effect. What is then important to do is have antibiotics prescribed by the vet that needs to follow the declawing procedure which would help in reducing the chances of infection.

After the surgical operation, appropriate antibiotics are necessary because the cats walk on the floor and visits many places that may not be properly cleaned up.

Another thing that pet parents must do is keep an eye out for infections as it may also get deeply rooted into the bone and may travel through the body.

Refusal to Use the Litterbox

Litterbox is the place where cats have the habit of digging and cover up after they do their business. This may change and the cat may altogether refuse to use the litter box because the wounds on its feet hurt.

Paw Pain and Nerve Damage

Paw pain and nerve damage can be caused by a number of issues. Declawing involves the removal of everything down to the first knuckle on each of a cat’s toes. Sometimes, a surgeon doesn’t remove the first knuckle entirely and some claw tissue remains. This tissue tries to grow a new claw, which in some cases will form a deformed claw under the skin, which in turn leads to an abscess. That can be extremely painful and lead to long-term pain if not dealt with properly. Nerve damage may result when a surgeon chooses the wrong surgical technique or is lacking in skill.

Back Pain

The back pain gets a little severe after the declawing surgery has been done. Their posture and walking style changes as they keep shifting from their weight distribution because of the pain in their feet. But this just puts a strain on our other muscles and causes pain.


Behavioral Changes

It is noticed that the declawing surgery should be done in the early ages of the cat or the parent may risk behavioral changes. Clawing is an instinctive behavior that doesn’t just wear down claws, it also acts a means for cats to mark their territory. If an adult cat is put through surgery who is already fixated on this behavior, it could be very stressful for the cat. Kittens, on the other hand, are more malleable than adult cats and more able to adjust to a major change like declawing.


Alternatives to Declawing

One surgical alternative to traditional declawing is a tendonectomy, during which the veterinarian severs the tendons that allow a cat to extend the claws. The procedure is initially less invasive than a true declaw, but it may lead to more long-term problems than declawing. “Scratching is an ingrained behavior in cats, and they still go through the motions if they don’t have claws. But with a tendonectomy, cats physically can’t scratch.

There are other alternatives to declawing that do not involve surgery. One of the most popular is plastic claw caps. Of course, one would have to catch the cat and individually cap each claw, so the cat has to be cooperative for this method to work. Veterinarians can perform the procedure every few weeks with the cat sedated, if necessary.

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