Declawing in Cats (Onychectomy)

Declawing (onychectomy) consists of surgical removal of the entire nail and nail bed of the front claws under general anaesthesia.  When your pet is admitted for surgery, s/he will be examined by the veterinarianperforming the surgery, and pre-anaesthetic blood tests will be performed if you have chosen to do so. We also recommend intravenous fluids be given during and after surgery to provide a more stable anaethesia and quicker recovery. After your pet is anaesthetized, a breathingtube will be placed in his/her trachea or windpipe.  This will allow the delivery of oxygen and the gas anaesthetic directly into the lungs.  The surgeon will use a surgical laser to perform the procedure. The incision sites are closed using a surgical skin adhesive or absorbable sutures. Laser Therapy is performed on the paws post-operatively. Often, thepatient will be hospitalized for one night.  Most cats are “back to normal” within 7 to 14 days.

To ensure a safe and speedy recovery for your cat, follow these guidelines:

  • Litter Box– Replace the normal granular litter with shredded strips of paper or a specially formulated dust free pelleted litter for the first 5 to 7 days.  If your pet refuses to use the paper litter, you may add 1/4 cup of regular clay litter that has been shaken to remove any clay dust. NEVER USE CLUMPING LITTER during this period.  This is important because small granules of litter can enter or adhere to the surgical sites and cause an infection or delay healing.
  • Exercise– Restricting a cats activity is difficult, at best.  As much as possible, discourage your cat from jumping on furniture and counter tops for the first week after surgery by blocking the access to these areas. If you see your cat on a counter top or high furniture, help it down.  Catsprimarily use their back legs to jump up, but may injure the surgical sites when they jump down and land on their front paws.
  • Bleeding– Occasionally a cat will break open one of its incisions and a few drops of blood may ooze out.  The blood should clot rapidly and form a small scab.  Notify the hospital if you observe continuous bleeding from a surgical site.  Do not attempt to clean the paws or administer any topical medications without consulting a veterinarian.

In general, complications are rare during the declawing of cats.  With modern anaesthetics and monitoring equipment, the risk is very low.   However, as with all surgical procedures, there is always a small risk:

  • Anaesthetic Complication– It is always possible that any pet could have an adverse reaction following the administration of any drug.  Such cases are impossible to predict, but fortunately are extremely rare. Pre-operative bloodwork is a useful screening test that may detect pre-existing problems which could interfere with the pets ability to handle anaesthetic drugs.  It is important that you properly fast your cat prior to surgery according to our instructions.  In addition, any signs of illness or previous medical history should be reported to us prior to anysedation, anaesthesia or surgery.
  • Post Operative Infection– This may occur around the incision wound.  In most cases the infection can be controlled with antibiotics.  This most commonly occurs when the cat licks the site excessively or is in a damp environment.

After declawing, it is advisable to keep your cat indoors. Some 10 scientific studies have shown that declawed cats are not at greater risk of getting bitten or injured in a cat fight. However, they may have a decreased ability to defend themselves against other predators if allowed outdoors.

Please contact the veterinary clinic if any of the following occur:

  • Your cats feet appear very swollen or bleed frequently and profusely.
  • Your pet is reluctant to walk after 4 or 5 days at home.
  • There is a change in your cats general health, behaviour, or if your cat stops eating for two consecutive days.
  • If you have any questions or concerns about your cat or the surgical procedure.

Cat Declaw Package


  • Intravenous fluids help to maintain normal blood pressure under anaesthesia.
  • Intravenous fluids provide venous access in emergency situations and help keep the organs perfused.
  • Intravenous fluids result in a more stable anaesthesia, and a quicker recovery for our patients.


Laser Therapy reduces pain and inflammation, stimulates nerve regeneration, muscle relaxation and immune system response. This significantly reduces healing time.


  • LESS PAIN – Laser energy seals nerve endings as it moves through tissue. Your pet feels less pain post-operatively.
  • LESS BLEEDING – The laser seals small blood vessels during surgery which allows us to perform surgeries with extraordinary precision. This also speeds some procedures reducing the amount of anesthesia needed.
  • LESS SWELLING – Laser energy does not crush, tear or bruise because only a beam of intense light contacts the tissue.