Caring for your cat after declawing

Declawing your cat is a very delicate procedure. Today, more and more vets are utilizing laser technologies, as it is less invasive, less painful, and requires a shorter recoup period. With this being said, it’s a procedure which is painful for your kitten, once the anesthesia wears off, whether they undergo traditional declawing techniques or laser declawing. As a cat owner, what do you do after declawing? How do you care for cats? What steps should you follow to take care of a cat, and ensure they’re comfortable? Let’s highlight a few things you should know as a caretaker after the fact.

Go at their pace

Again, your cat is going to be groggy after the procedure. Once the anesthesia wears off, they’re going to shiver, they might tremble, and they’ll likely be irritable for a few days. Do not rush them. This is to be expected. Make sure you set up

  • A quiet space with warm bedding (a heated bed or with soft blankets)
  • A place that’s separate from other cats/pets in the home away from other pets and humans in the household

Every cat will go at their own pace. It will take at least a couple of weeks for them to get back to normal, so don’t worry if they seem a little groggy, don’t want to play, or just want to be left alone. And, the older your cat is, the longer this recovery process might take. So, don’t speed them along.

Litter Box

The litter box should be clean when the cat gets home after declawing; and, make sure you have a separate litter box if you have more than one cat in the home, at least during the recovery and care period. Instead of using clay or hard rocks, use soft paper or shredded newspaper in the litter box for at least 2 to 3 weeks post-surgery. This will help prevent infection, injuries, and help speed up the wound healing process. If you don’t have old newspapers lying around, you can buy shredded paper litter at any pet store.

Make sure to clean the litter box regularly during the first few weeks as well, to help prevent infections, as they’re more likely when the wound/claws are still fresh and exposed to the elements.

Going Outside

If possible, avoid letting your cat go outside for at least 2 to 3 weeks after declawing. Not only is this going to help in the wound healing process, and allow the paw/claw to close faster. But, it is also going to ensure they don’t get anything stuck in their paws or play with outdoor critters that might track infections or diseases. The last thing you want while your cat’s paws are exposed is for them to get sick or for bacteria to buildup below the wound. Therefore, keep them indoors, in a safe place, and keep them away from other pets for as much time as possible, until you notice they’re getting back to their normal activities and are moving around freely, without pain or limping.

Bandage Removal

If you’re afraid to remove the bandages post-surgery, you aren’t alone. But, you have to do so for the wounds to begin to close and heal. You’ll remove the bandages according to your vet’s instructions; it’s typically safe to remove them 24 to 36 hours post-surgery. You’ll begin by

  • Loosening the outer tape
  • Pulling the inner bandage away from your cat’s claws/paw
  • Avoid using scissors as this can result in cutting your cat’s paws and injuring them

It’s a good idea to administer their pain medication 20 to 30 minutes before bandage removal, as this will help your cat calm down a bit. If you’re not able to remove the bandages, don’t keep trying. Call your vet tech and schedule an appointment; it’s better to be safe than sorry and possibly injure your cat.

Food & Medication

When it comes to giving your cat medication after their procedure, make sure you follow your vet’s instructions 100% as directed. The same goes for reading labels on their medication. With food, don’t expect your cat to be very hungry or have a big appetite after declawing either. Again, let them go at their own pace, and don’t force them.

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Do’s & Don’ts after declawing your cat

Here are a few dos and don’ts as it relates to feeding them and giving them their medication after declawing.

Dos

Some things you want to do in terms of feeding/medicating your cat after declawing include

  • Give them only small amounts of food and water (until they ask for more), as they don’t have much of an appetite for up to 36-hours after surgery
  • Administer pain medication and antibiotics exactly as the prescription/label indicates
  • Give your cat pain medication immediately when the anesthesia wears off (according to your vet’s instructions)

Dont’s

There are some things to avoid post-surgery, as it relates to their medication and eating/drinking habits including

  • Don’t give them anything other than their cat food or water (avoid treats for some time)
  • Don’t ever give your cat Tylenol or other medications for humans (this can be deadly for your cat)
  • Don’t over/under medicate; make sure you follow precise instructions
  • Don’t wait too long to call your vet if your cat isn’t responding to the medication

You want to be mindful that your cat is in pain, and it’s only going to get worse as the anesthesia wears off. So, make sure you’re following instructions, and understand they might be temperamental or moody after the procedure. Give them time to heal!

After surgery, your cat will be moody, groggy, and won’t be very active; and, this can last for several weeks. Don’t hesitate, and don’t try to speed the process along. Take your time and make sure you utilize extreme caution when you take care of a cat that’s recently been declawed. The more gentle you are, and the more space you give your cat to heal, the easier the process will be for you, for them, and everyone who’s along for the ride.

** Don’t ever hesitate to call your vet, especially if there’s bleeding or your cat’s medications aren’t taking effect.