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Declawing Procedure Is Explained

March 24, 1988|DR. GLENN ERICSON

Q: I have a 1 1/2-year-old calico cat named Pinto. She has always been a strictly indoor cat, which has not been a problem until recently. She has started clawing the furniture and drapes in my apartment. This will never do. A friend of mine suggested having Pinto declawed. Is it harmful at all to the cat? Will she be in the hospital for long? What is the after care?

Dorothy Roberts,

Villa Park

A: Declawing is a surgical procedure that involves removal of the nail-producing portion of each digit. When removed completely, the nail is unable to grow back. Generally only the front feet are done, leaving the rear claws intact.

The procedure requires a general anesthesia and, in many cases, the cat goes home the same day with her feet bandaged. Some practices keep the cat overnight and remove the bandages before sending it home. The surgery site is often closed using sutures or a tissue adhesive. There is some tenderness for several days, but most cats return to normal without any problems.

It is wise to keep your pet confined indoors. You should use shredded paper or wood chips instead of gravel-type litter in the box. This will decrease the chance of material getting into the surgery sites. Check the feet daily to see that they are healing well. Look for swelling, extreme tenderness or drainage from the toes.

If surgery is not an option, try keeping your cat's nails trimmed frequently. A scratching post or rug section may be an ideal alternative to the furniture. If your cat starts to scratch on a chair, move her quickly to her post and let her scratch there. A loud "no" or noise may immediately stop or prevent your cat from starting to scratch. Hitting your cat will be of little value.

Q: I have just gotten a 2-month-old male schnauzer. My friends are telling me I need to have his ears "cropped." Please explain what this actually means. Is it necessary? Is it beneficial? What breeds need to have their ears cropped?

Janice Charles,

Santa Ana

A: Ear cropping is cosmetic surgery that is performed to alter the shape of a dog's ears. The size and shape depends on the standard set by the breed association. Great Danes, Dobermans and schnauzers are the most common breeds to have the surgery. The surgery is generally not essential or necessary, unless showing your dog is very important.

The ears are examined by the veterinarian who determines where the incisions are to be made. After surgery, the ears often are put in a "rack" to help the ears stand. Later, the ears are bandaged or "coned" individually to add shape. Sutures are removed within two weeks. The ears must be kept clean until completely healed.

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