Questions & Answers

What is the difference between a laser declaw procedure and conventional declaw procedure?

Scratching with the front claws is normal, instinctive behavior for cats. The purpose of this activity is to remove old, worn fragments of their nails. Though scratching is normal for cats, this behavior can be destructive and costly in the home.

Declawing is not a routine or necessary part of preventative health care for kittens. Trimming nails, which is quick and easy, is a regular part of caring for indoor cats as well as providing scratching surfaces (please see the article The Importance of Cat Claws for more information). Many people are surprised to learn that removal of the claws requires removal of bone at the last joint and is actually a partial toe amputation, equivalent to removal of a finger at the last knuckle. There are well-studied adverse effects from this procedure such as chronic pain, arthritis, nerve pain, tendency to bite and urinating outside the litter box. At three months of age this is the perfect time to start teaching your kitten how you prefer him to use, or not use, his claws.

As far as what the procedures entail:

CONVENTIONAL DECLAWING (Onychectomy) consists of surgical removal of the nail and the tissue from which the nail is generated.  The surgery sites are usually sealed with a sterile tissue glue and bandaged for 24 hours. After the bandages are removed, your pet will be able to walk, though tenderness may be evident for a few days.  Laser declaw uses a laser unit to remove the phalange in place of a regular surgical blade.  Less bleeding occurs with this procedure.

TENDONECTOMY (Deep Digital Flexor Tendonectomy) involves the surgical removal of a portion of the ligament which allows cats to extend their nails.  After the surgery, cats still have their claws, but cannot extend them. Owner must trim nails periodically after this procedure because the toenail is left in tact.

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