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Laser Declawing Cats: The Lesser Evil

July 31, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Cat Care Tips | No comments yet, be the first!

Laser Declawing Cats

Let’s face it; declawing cats is one of the most controversial topics in cat care. One of the newer procedures to eliminate cat scratching is laser declawing, also known as onychectomy.

Scratching is a natural instinct for cats, and claws are their only form of self-defense. When making the decision to declaw, it is very important to weigh the benefits and costs.

Set on removing those claws? Laser claw removal is being viewed as a better option for cats than traditional declawing methods.

Keep reading to learn more about laser declawing cats and how it will affect your cat.

Declawing as a Last Resort

We can probably (hopefully) all agree that declawing a cat should be your last resort to clawing issues. There are a variety of tricks and alternatives to surgically removing your cat’s claws.

If deciding to declaw, be sure that your cat will always be an indoor cat. Allowing a declawed cat outdoors poses a dangerous threat.

Make sure you are providing your cat with an outlet for scratching. Cats need to have a place to scratch, and providing them with a post will teach them where scratching is okay.

Trimming nails often may be another solution. When you keep your cat’s claws groomed, there is less of a need for the feline to find their own means of nail grooming.

Another great option is Soft Paws™. These are vinyl nail caps that are glued directly over the claw. You will need to replace them over time, but this is a great alternative to declawing by keeping nails intact and preventing scratching.

Click here to learn more about cat declawing and alternatives to declawing.

Laser Declawing Costs

The cost of declawing with a laser is always going to carry a higher price tag than traditional methods. Laser equipment can cost vets anywhere between $20,000-$40,000. For you as a pet owner, this translates to an additional $50-$150 more than traditional prices.

The good news: this is a one-time cost. Your cat or kitten only needs to be declawed once, and it is worth every single penny to choose a less painful procedure.

One thing to keep in mind is the experience your veterinarian has with laser equipment for declawing. Since this is a newer technique, some vets may not be as skilled as others. Prolonged healing periods and tissue burns are risks with a less experienced user.

How Laser Declawing Works

With any declawing surgery, your cat will be placed under anesthesia. Anesthesia, as with any other surgery, always carries possibly fatal risks.

To declaw a cat effectively, the third toe bone must be disarticulated. This is where the nail is essentially detached and re-growth is prevented. With laser declawing, lasers will cut and seal at the same time. This means that the nail is removed at the same time the blood vessels are sealed, leading to little or no bloodshed.

When the laser incision is made, your cat’s nerve endings retract from the heat, which many believe significantly decreases pain post-surgery. It can take these nerve endings 2 weeks to regenerate, giving enough time for the incisions to heal with minimal pain and discomfort.

Recovery & Side Effects

Immediately after surgery, your cat may be held at the veterinarian hospital overnight. Some people say that their cats go right back to their normal habits after the procedure because they aren’t in pain. The risk here is that cats may damage healing paws because they can’t feel the damage.

When laser declawing cats, you may not even have to bandage the paws. If your cat does have bandages, be attentive and look out for signs of bleeding. Spotting is typically normal, but anything more than that should warrant a call to the vet.

Depending on your cat’s sensitivity, replacing kitty litter with shredded newspaper or pellets will prevent litter from getting stuck in paws. Be patient if you kitty has problems using the litter box normally. There may be a few accidents simply from discomfort.

Some do report personality changes in their cats, and this could be temporary or long term. Another serious side effect to look out for is a change in posture. Since declawing removes bone, your cat will need to readjust their weight. If too much weight is put on the wrong joints, it can lead to pain and long-term issues.

Know It All Before You Declaw

The greatest advice we can give is to do your research before making a decision about declawing. There are a lot of strong opinions about declawing, but it is important that you educate yourself before forming your own opinion.

You know what is best for you and your cat.


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