I have an 11-year-old Abyssinian cat, Alexandra. She is a strictly indoor cat who has been spayed and carefully looked after by both her veterinary allergy specialist and veterinarian. Alexandra began scratching the upholstery on my furniture soon after I got her from the breeder in 2000. Since I am diametrically opposed to declawing, I tried bitter apple and the Feliway pheromone room diffuser, plus spraying with water. Nothing deterred the scratching. I also clipped her nails as often as I could. Next, I tried Soft Paws caps glued to her nails. Her vet first applied them, and I am now successfully putting them on at home. Her scratching is harmless now. In December 2010, a guest at a Christmas party in my home accidentally stepped on Alexandra's paw. We stanched the slight bleeding and wrapped her paw. Our vet told us she would be all right as long as there was no infection. The entire Soft Paw dropped off right after the accident, with a portion of her natural nail still inside. Now there is merely a stump where the nail ends, which appears to be at the quick of her nail. The nail has not grown back. My question is this: Why can't modern veterinary surgery remove cats' nails without removing the joints and mutilating the cats?
D.B.C., Suffolk, Va Feb 06, 2012
If there is no sign of the nail growing back, the nail bed that regenerates the nail is probably permanently damaged. Normally, when a cat tears off a nail, a new one grows back within a few weeks. Veterinarians who perform onychectomies (removing the cat's finger- and toe-tips) now use lasers that purportedly cause less pain and inflammation than conventional cutting with a clipper or scalpel. Even so, it is a profound alteration both physically and psychologically. The operation involves dissection and removal of the first phalanx at the first joint; look at your own fingers and envision each one being cut off at the first joint. This is done because digging into the root of each nail would actually be a more involved process with even greater post-operative pain, inflammation and possible deformed nail growth if the entire nail bed is not completely destroyed. After the multiple onychectomies are performed -- one on each nail -- each paw can become deformed as tendons contract and paw-pads shrink. Arthritis and an abnormal gait can also develop. For more details, check my review on this topic on my website.
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