Letters to dvm360: A different perspective on declawing

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When the procedure is performed carefully at a young age, cats lead a healthy, happy life.

I have read so much about declawing lately (see several articles in the September issue of dvm360) that I thought I'd add my thoughts. I'm an old practitioner but have tried to keep up. I like to do my declaw procedures while the kittens are very young, around 8 to 10 weeks. I also believe in early neutering.

I, of course, use pressure hemorrhage control and a Resco clipper. I am very careful not to cut the last phalanx. Cutting that last bone leads to pain. I then take a pair of short-nosed wire-cutting suture scissors and trim out the growth plate just under the bone. I use a tiny drop of glue at the skin edge along with antibiotic powder, apply a fairly tight wrap and then hospitalize the kitty. The next day the bandages are removed and the cat is confined. At the end of day three, the cat is sent home. The owner rarely has any comments about discomfort. It is not uncommon on that third day to see young kittens climb up the cage bars and not show any discomfort.

I think several factors are at work. The kittens are very young (how many men out there remember being circumcised?), there is no bone cut and they have a pretty high pain threshold. 

How would you like-for the rest of your life-being yelled at, squirted with water or having to go to a special place for doing something that to you is perfectly normal, like scratching your nose or rubbing your ear? These cats may have to go through a day or so of discomfort, but they have a lifetime of serenity.

Philip G. Weida, DVM

Irvine, California

 

The constant and endless discussions about the ups and downs of the declaw procedure have me rather mystified. This was a procedure I performed many times over almost 50 years in practice and never had a bit of problem with! The paw area was prepared for surgery and then with a  simple nail clipper (sterilized of course) the nail was removed at its base. Then a simple bandage over the entire foot was applied for one week. A shot of long-acting penicillin was also given. Once the patient had recovered from anesthesia it was discharged. I do not recall ever having any postoperative problems over many years of practice. This is a procedure that all small animal practitioners should be capable of since it will save many a feline life.

Bud Stuart DVM

Santa Barbara, California

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