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Declaw: This doesn't help one bit

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
More Veterinarians Using Laser Surgery to Declaw Cats

August 02, 2003
Written by: Mike Gray
An increasing number of veterinarians are using a laser procedure to declaw cats. The surgery, clinically known as an onychectomy, is one of several common veterinary procedures traditionally performed with a scalpel that can now be done with laser technology.

Typically, cats are declawed to prevent them from scratching people or inappropriate objects—although, behavior modification programs, most experts agree, are successful at curtailing scratching and are a more humane way of dealing with the behavior.

When done properly by any means, declawing has minimal complications in a young healthy cat. Potentially, though, traditional methods of declawing can result in pain, some blood loss, and swollen tissue.

However, the laser procedure dramatically reduces bleeding because the laser seals small blood vessels and acts as a cauterizing agent, according to Dr. Daniel Fields, who introduced the use of lasers to the veterinary market and serves as the director of the veterinary surgical division of ESC Medical, a company that sells the lasers.

In addition, Dr. Fields claims the laser technique decreases pain, eliminates swelling, and vastly reduces a cat’s recovery period.

But not all veterinarians agree that laser declawing is safer than traditional methods.

Christine Stockmal, DVM, who practices out of the American Animal Hospital in Mount Freedom, New Jersey and has used the laser to perform declawing, said there may be some complications associated with the use of the laser. She said the laser inhibits healing, causing the incision to take longer to heal.

In a traditional onychectomy, a scalpel blade or Resco nail-clipper is used to cut away the toenail, severing its connection to the ligament. So that the claw cannot regrow, the bony portion just behind the claw is also removed. If some of this bone is left behind, the toenail is able to regrow.

According to Anne Sinclaire, DVM, of the Cat Sense Feline Hospital in Bel Air, Maryland, who uses the lasers exclusively in onychectomy procedures, there is no risk of toenail regrowth with laser surgery.

"With a laser, which can not cut bone…you have to cut the ligament connections or [declawing] won’t happen at all," she said.

The idea to use lasers in feline declawing is credited to Rod Hartwick, DVM, who practices in of Chesapeake, Virginia. He explained that he began using lasers because he was dissatisfied with the Resco clipper method as well as the scalpel and forceps techniques.

"The laser is the greatest thing to happen to cat practices," Dr. Hartwick said. "The cat is up and about in five minutes."

But the quick recovery time associated with the laser procedure may actually result in some serious complications. Dr. Stockmal explained that because the level of pain is reduced, the cat will not be inhibited from resuming a normal activity level and may put too much pressure on the surgical site.

"We had some problems with breakdown of the surgical site about a week after the procedure," she said.

Elizabeth L. DeLomba, DVM, contributed to this article.
============= END of Article =====================

Maybe we should offer all those "helpfull" vets a totally painless amputation of their own fingers.
After all, if the surgery itself is painless, then it's OK to do it, isn't it?
post #2 of 18
Originally posted by Seagull
Maybe we should offer all those "helpfull" vets a totally painless amputation of their own fingers.
After all, if the surgery itself is painless, then it's OK to do it, isn't it? [/b]
I'll second that! There used to be a vet at a clinic where I worked that actually encouraged people to declaw their cats. She would tell people not to waste their time trying to train their cats not to scratch! She told them that it doesn't hurt the cats, and that it's OK to let the cats outside after a declaw too - that they can still climb, and get away from dangers! She'll get hers someday, I'm sure!
post #3 of 18
I have spoken with a few Vets about the laser method, and they feel it is safe and better than getting scratched. I know I will get flamed for my views, but I am in-tiled to my opinion.
post #4 of 18
Have you ever accidentally scratched yourself or someone else? If so, perhaps it would be safer for all involved if your doctor was to amputate your fingers at the last knuckle. You will be under anesthesia, so it won't hurt. It seems awfully logical to me!
post #5 of 18
Isn't that great?? Now, are they going to come up with a way to make the physical damage and emotional damage better?
post #6 of 18
If you have a medical reason that a tiny cat scratch could be dangerous to you, have you considered trimming your cat's claws? Just buy some scissor-type cat claw trimmers from the store & cut the sharp hooks off the claws, avoiding the pink part. Or you could try SoftPaws - www.softpaws.com
They're little vinyl caps that fit over your cat's claws to prevent scratching. Many vets can even put them on for you, so you don't risk a scratch.

There are also ways that you can teach a cat not to scratch - the Behavior forum has lots of good hints.
post #7 of 18
Originally posted by nighteyes
I have spoken with a few Vets about the laser method, and they feel it is safe and better than getting scratched. I know I will get flamed for my views, but I am in-tiled to my opinion.

Great i'm sure if you declaw your lovely cat(s) will thank you....
post #8 of 18
oi vey
post #9 of 18
Laser surgery is still painful to the animal. Just because the cat can't speak english to tell you....do you assume that it is less painful? I cut my 3 cats claws. Did you know that cats walk on their "toes".....yes it is true....then the first knuckle is removed Now the cat has to learn to walk again from what it was born to do in a natural way from god. Is this fair to the animal that "We" claim to love!! I thought >NOT<
post #10 of 18
It makes me so angry that people think declawing is a "good thing"! My cats don't scratch, I always clip their nails. Most cats don't mind if you clip their nails, but they do mind if you get their knuckles hacked off! People that are "for" declawing should have their knuckles chopped off, while their awake!

Wow! A new laser declaw? What an awesome idea! That's how many people react to it. Save your cats paw, don't make her defensless!
post #11 of 18
Well.....Nighteyes....you read how some of us feel....do you have anything else to say?
post #12 of 18
If she says something, then she will get jumped on and flamed by the looks of this thread. I hate that every time declawing is brought up on any board that flames and emotions erupt and people get turned off instead of learning. Is this board anti-declaw? Most vehemently yes, but people need to remember that education is the key here that turns people around and not emotional outbursts or personal attacks.

You are not going to be able to change people's minds unless you present the evidence in non-passionate manner and point out the flaws in the arguments that present themselves.

Would it surprise you to know that I have a good friend who loves Persians and has 3 and they are all declawed? No matter how I present my arguements to him and his wife, they still insist to declaw to save the furniture.........sigh...... The cats are not exhibiting any behavior problems and so my arguements fall on their very deaf ears. They claim that when they buy another Persian, they will do the same thing all over again. It makes me sad, but there is nothing I can do to change what has already been done.
post #13 of 18
You are right as always Hissy.....although I did not see any personal attacks...
post #14 of 18
No, not here, not yet, but they always seem to happen on the declaw threads. I just didn't want the emotions to start running high and not say something first. We are not all going to agree here, but the hope is we can all get along despite the fact that we do disagree.
post #15 of 18
Hissy-Its just that most of us can't stand by and listen about a animal being tortured. So sad
post #16 of 18
Thank you Hissy.

I have my opinion on this matter so lets just leave it at that. I do not want to argue with anyone. Lets just agree to disagree.

My cat is not declawed. I do not have a scratching problem with him.

I simply stated what I have heard from some friends who are Vets.

If I had a problem with my cat, yes I would consider this option.
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by Crazy-Cat-Lover
Wow! A new laser declaw? What an awesome idea! That's how many people react to it.
That's exactly what I was afraid of when I read the article.

Nighteyes said that she spoke to vets who feel that declawing is better than getting scratched.
Better for whom? Certainly not for the cat.

And this was said by a Vet. If even vets don't care about the well being of the animal anymore, who does?.

This also made me very sad, especially for you guys in the US.
There you are, trying to educate people and than vets come up with yet another justification.

Whenever I am in doubt, I ask my vet.
I guess that's what every responsible pet owner does.
If I couldn't trust my vet, I'd have a problem.

As for the remark that declawing is better than getting scratched:
I do not like to get bitten. I want to prevent it at all costs.
That leaves me with two options.
1. I get myself a pet ferret and have its teeth pulled
2. I do not get myself a ferret

Furniture can be replaced and trust me, scratches do heal... eventually.
I have a looooot of experience

Oh, in case you're wondering.
The correct answer is option 2.
post #18 of 18
Nighteyes, I am glad that your cat is not declawed. Whenever I hear someone is considering a declaw, I try to promote alternatives such as claw trimming, SoftPaws, and the other wonderful behavior-shaping alternatives suggested in the Behavior forum. This combined with education about what a declaw actually does to a cat (have you ever seen one?) can save much pain and suffering. If you know anyone who is considering a declaw, or if you ever have problems with your cat, I hope that you will give serious consideration to declaw alternatives.

Many veterinarians here will, unfortunately, happily promote declawing cats instead of providing education about alternative methods. They are often not totally honest about the suffering a cat experiences from a declaw and the potential for negative behavior issues afterward - they don't want to turn away business - they're afraid if they try to discourage a declaw that clients will just take their cats elsewhere. They stand to make money from the declaw surgery, where providing information about alternatives is not profitable...most people aren't as willing to pay a vet for his or her time working out behavior issues as they are to pay for a surgery. Behavior issues also take time to solve; a declaw is a simple (in the vet's eyes, who is not personally losing his finger joints) procedure.

The vet I mentioned before who promotes declaws declawed a very sweet kitten that I gave her (before I knew about her pro-declaw attitude) - the poor kitten turned into a biter. A cat bite is much more harmful to the recipient than a scratch!
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