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Matthew Sisk: Declawing cats not really necessary
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Leia has sutures at the site of her surgery. Internally, she does too, but hopefully I never see those again.

Now, the main area I expect to see again is the skin site where the final closure occurred. Skin heals with good strength in approximately a week and a half.

To cover my bases, I recommended Leia’s sutures be removed in two weeks. So imagine my concern when an assistant tells me I have a call on line two about Leia’s surgery.

I ask my assistant if Leia’s surgery site is OK. She smirks and rolls her eyes.

“Just get line two,” she said. “You’ll see.”

So I answer, but have no idea what I’m in for.

I recognize the voice immediately and the tone.

Uncle Donnie, two time zones away, has heard I spayed Leia. Naturally, he has an opinion to offer. Why he offers it to me, I’ll never know.

Mainly, if we’re so concerned with using surgery to prevent future problems, why didn’t I declaw Leia at the time of her spay? Obviously, this gap in logic shows we’re only after money and can’t even keep our story straight as far as why we recommend surgeries such as spaying.

I remind him I cannot legally discuss a patient with someone other than her owner. Furthermore, ethics prevent me from doing such even without the legal concern.

Uncle Donnie shares a derisive laugh. He asks for another hypothetical cat discussion.

Well, I don’t like doing onychectomies. After explaining and pronouncing the term for him (it means declawing), I explain why. It isn’t often as necessary as some people think it is. Yes, some cats are destructive with their claws and don’t respond to behavioral therapies like toys and scratching posts. And some cats live with humans who have bleeding disorders.

But most cats don’t fit into either category. Why put a cat through a surgery that’s not needed?

Plus, declawed cats can be more likely to bite or spray urine inappropriately. Those events can lead to euthanasia.

As is Uncle Donnie’s way, he hangs up on me.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at

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