Declawing is the removal of the entire nail and nail bed (third phalanx) of the toes in cats.

When to Declaw

Declawing is usually done at the request of the pet owner and only the front claws are removed. The procedure is best performed on kittens that are 6 months of age, because recovery is faster in younger, smaller cats.

Careful consideration needs to be made before this procedure is done. The animal's activities, environment and, especially whether it is an indoor or outdoor cat, needs to be evaluated, because declawing removes one of the cat's primary defense mechanisms.

The Declaw Surgery

Prior to surgery, your cat will be examined and if requested pre-anesthetic blood work can be done to assess his/her general health and eligibility for surgery. Once your pet has been examined the Doctor will then give him/her a sedative and pain medication, an IV catheter will be placed and IV fluids will be started. IV fluids will help maintain your pet's blood pressure and hydration during the surgery as well as help to flush the anesthetic out after surgery ensuring a smooth recovery.

The operation is then performed under general anesthesia:

  • Pain management is very important at our hospital. In addition to the general anesthesia a local anesthetic block is injected into both paws to help control pain during the surgery as well as afterwards. A pain patch is also placed onto your pet's skin which will slowly release pain medication the entire time your pet is in the hospital.
  • Each front foot is cleansed with an antiseptic
  • The claws are removed surgically
  • The surgical sites are closed with tissue glue which will gradually slough away over time
  • At the time of surgery , patients can have a microchip placed at the owners request. It is very important to us that if your pet ever gets lost they can be returned promptly to you.
  • After surgery, your cat will be placed in a comfortable cage with a warming puck and blankets. They are closely monitored by our technicians to make sure they remain comfortable as they are recovering from surgery.
  • Once in recovery, one of our technicians will call you with an update and can email you a picture of your pet if you choose.
  • On the day your pet goes home, one of our technicians will go over the home care instructions and answer any questions you may have.


Your pet will be hospitalized for two nights. Pain medication will be prescribed for you to give your pet at home. Most cats are "back to normal" within seven to ten days, sometimes sooner.

A complimentary bag of "Yesterday's News" (compressed newspaper litter) will be given to you to take home. It should be used in the litter box instead of regular kitty litter for 3 - 5 days after surgery, to prevent contamination of the wounds. The paws must be kept clean and dry to minimize infection.

Although uncommon, complications can occur, including persistent pain and reluctance to walk, scar formation, and infection. If you have any concerns at all after the surgery please do not hesitate to call us, we can answer any questions you may have and if needed we will see your pet for a free post surgical exam.