Complications of declawing

The claw in the picture, which was originally in one piece before surgery, was removed from inside the paw of a 10 year old cat. The cat had been declawed as a kitten and what you see is the regrowth that occurred. This was discovered when, during a recent routine examination, the vet felt something odd in the cat's front paw. The poor cat spent years living with this problem unnoticed and it was undoubtedly painful. This is just one of the many complications that can and do occur when a cat is declawed.

The following abstracts are from studies on declawing and tenectomy. Note the high complication rates for both procedures.

Vet Surg 1994 Jul-Aug;23(4):274-80

Feline Onychectomy at a Teaching Institution: A
Retrospective Study of 163 Cases.

Tobias KS
Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences
Washington State University
College of Veterinary Medicine,
Pullman 99164-6610.

One hundred sixty-three cats underwent onychectomy. Fifty percent of the cats had one or more complications immediately after surgery. Early postoperative complications included:


Follow-up was available in 121 cats.  19.8% developed complications after release.
Late postoperative complications included:

P2 protrusion
palmagrade stance
prolonged, intermittent lameness

J Am Vet Med Assoc
1998 Aug 1;213(3):370-3

Comparison of Effects of Elective Tenectomy or Onychectomy in Cats.

Jankowski AJ, Brown DC, Duval J, Gregor TP, Strine LE, Ksiazek LM, Ott AH

Department of Clinical Studies
Veterinary Teaching Hospital
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia 19104, USA.

Objective: To compare short- and long-term complications after Tenectomy of the deep digital flexor tendons or onychectomy.

Animals: 20 cats undergoing Tenectomy and 18 cats undergoing onychectomy.

Procedure: Cats undergoingTenectomy or onychectomy were monitored for a minimum of 5 months to enable comparison of type and frequency of complications.Type and frequency of complications did not differ between procedures.
Clinical Implications: Owners should be aware of the high complication rate for both procedures.