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Tendonectomy: A Surgical Alternative To Declawing 

This surgical procedure is gaining popularity with owners who are concerned about the recovery period with a conventional declaw. Here, a ligament is cut on the underside of each toe to prevent grasping motions. The claws remain but the cat cannot extend them.

What To Expect/Possible Complications 

Because the incisions needed for this procedure are so small, the recovery is minimal. No bandages, no special litter, no blood spotting. There are usually no stitches to remove and the tiny incisions are closed in surgical glue.

Because the cat can no longer make grasping motions, the claws will naturally grow in a circular manner into the foot pads causing pain and infection unless the owner is able to trim the nails on a regular basis. (The tendonectomy patient will require life-long regular nail-clipping.).

The August 1, 1998 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reports a study that compared the long and short term complications of tendonectomy vs. those of traditional declaw. Owner satisfaction with both procedures was also measured. While cats who received the tendonectomy showed significantly lower pain scores immediately post operatively, both procedures showed an equal frequency of other complications (bleeding, lameness, and infection). 

The number of days it took for a cat to walk normally again was not different between the declawed cats and the tendonectomy cats. There was no significant difference between the percentage of owners satisfied with declaw versus the percentage of owners satisfied with tendonectomy. 

 
















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