Newtown Square Veterinary Hospital is a feline onychectomy (declaw) free practice.
A declaw procedure (as defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association) is the surgical amputation of the distal digit (last bone of the toe) and attached claw. If this procedure were compared to human medicine it would be the amputation of the entire tip of the human finger beginning at the last joint.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners, which has designated NSVH as a Gold Status Certified Cat Friendly Practice, has a strong position statement against declawing procedures. In keeping with our feline friendly mission, Newtown Square Veterinary Hospital does not perform onchyectomy (declaw) surgeries. Declawing surgery is known to be exceedingly painful, and can result in a long list of significant, lifelong complications.
Scratching is a natural feline behavior that meets cats’ many needs. Once a cat’s claws have been removed, the cat can no longer perform natural stretching and kneading behaviors; this is thought to increase anxiety and stress. Additionally, cats without claws have lost their first line of defense. They cannot fight off other animals, or escape quickly from a dangerous situation. Declawed cats often turn to biting because they no longer can use their claws as a warning.
Finally, declawed cats are more likely urinate and defecate outside the litter box. This is thought to result from associating the litter box with the painful act of digging and covering waste. Declawed cats often seek a less painful place for elimination, such as the carpet, bathtub, bed or even piles of laundry. Even though there are effective ways to modify a cat’s litter box behavior, with declawed cats it is a very difficult challenge; a declawed cat’s aversion to the box is a direct result from the association of the litter box with pain.
Scratching is a normal behavior for cats and in most cases scratching locations can be controlled. This can be achieved by providing the cat with appropriate surfaces to scratch on such as scratch posts and boxes, providing additional environmental enrichment (toys, play time), trimming the nails regularly, and/or the application of soft paws.
Newtown Square Veterinary Hospital feels strongly about our position to educate owners about the risks associated with declawing and we hope to discourage its practice in the future. We also are happy to discuss strategies to help you and your cat find a solution to unwanted scratching. Please feel free to call our office at 484-427-7598 with any questions.