New Policy: Declawing

“We strongly oppose declawing because from an ethical viewpoint, the surgery is unacceptable. It offers no advantage to the cat. It is evident that felines suffer needlessly when undergoing this surgery as an elective measure.”

– The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association

The Problem

Did you know that declawing your cat is actually an orthopedic surgery where the surgeon removes the last digit or phalange from the paw? By doing this, it prevents the nails from ever growing back, however surgical complications can arise causing infection, or bone burs to happen. The procedure also changes the way cats are able to walk on their paws, which can commonly lead to chronic spinal pain, and overall, long-term physical discomfort as adults.

Some cats, after the procedure tend to act out with life-long behavioral issues such as inappropriate bathroom habits. It has also been linked to cats having aggression to owners and veterinarian staff alike, from the traumatizing experience. Even when the surgery is done properly, life-long pain can occur from damaged nerve endings in the paws themselves. If a pet is declawed, they should never be let outside unattended as the surgery has removed the cats first line of defense against potential animal attacks.

As a veterinary clinic, we feel it is our responsibility to educate our clients on the truth about declawing and alternative solutions. The majority of Canada has taken a stance by completely outlawing the procedure due to it being unethical, unnecessary and having a negative impact on your cat’s quality of life.

Other Options

While pet owners may still be concerned with inappropriate scratching, there are some easy, and non-invasive measures, that can be taken.

  • Using Nail Caps – Nails caps or “Soft Paws” are plastic caps placed over the nail after it has been cut. They have rounded edges to prevent harmful damage if a cat is inappropriately scratching. With this product the nail will grow out and the caps will fall off, signaling that it is time for a replacement. They commonly need replacing every month. They come in a variety of fun colors and patterns to be enjoyed by the pet owners, and are not painful to be applied. This product can be purchased from your local pet store, or online, and our technicians are trained to apply the nail caps if you are uncomfortable doing it at home.
  • Routine Nail Trims – We suggest starting kittens off with routine nail trims, as it helps them become comfortable with their paws being handled and provides a positive experience at their vet clinic, making exams later on in life less stressful. Alternatively, owners can learn to cut their pets’ nails at home. It is a quick procedure and can help form a bond with your new kitten.
  • Training – Cats and kittens enjoy new stimuli in their environment and challenges to keep their minds active. Training your cats to use designated places to scratch and play, such as a cat tree* or scratching pad*, can help save your furniture in the future. Using products such as Feliway (a calming pheromone spray) or catnip around these toys can help entice your pet to use them more often.

*Not all cats like the same materials so it is beneficial to try different ones until you find one your cat likes. Materials that you can try are: sisal, rope, cardboard or rough fabric. These items need to be sturdy so cats feel secure using them. A combination of vertical and horizontal scratching surfaces is a good way to keep your cat’s mind stimulated.

We at Beattie Pet Hospital – Stoney Creek want to support our patients to the best of our ability, and because of this, we will no longer offer declawing services.