It's possible that declawing is the most controversial issue in the feline world. However, if you're going to declaw Fluffy, laser surgery is probably the best route. That doesn't mean there's no drawbacks or dangers, but less so than conventional methods.
Assuming your cat has already had all necessary blood and lab work prior to surgery, he is sedated with pain medication and then anesthetized for the surgery. The veterinary technician attaches monitoring devices to keep tabs on all his vital organs and functions. He is also hooked up to a catheter for fluid administration. Your cat receives a local anesthetic at the surgical sites. The vet then uses the laser to remove all of his claws, along with the bone to which they are attached. According to the Cat Hospital of Chicago, this is the equivalent of removing your fingernail along with the bone at your fingertip that attaches it. After she completes the surgery, the vet uses surgical glue to close the incisions.
Cats undergoing declawing surgery via a laser experience less pain and heal more quickly. There's little, if any, bleeding. Cats don't require bandaging of their feet, which is necessary in conventional declawing surgeries. Use of the laser automatically seals all those small blood vessels in their toes. They also don't require as much anesthesia, so they're awake and can be fed an hour or so post-surgery. Most cats won't need pain medication once they get home.
If your vet isn't thoroughly familiar with the laser equipment, it's possible that she could accidentally burn your cat's toe tissue. It takes approximately two weeks for the nerve endings to grow back to the toes. At this point, some cats experience severe tingling in the toes, to the point where they constantly shake their feet. The tingling generally stops within a few days, but call your vet if your cat exhibits this behavior.
Purchasing the equipment for laser declawing is a big expense for a veterinary hospital. That means the cost is likely to be higher for you if you choose this method for removing your cat's claws. Another major consideration is veterinary experience. Learning to use the laser scalpel efficiently takes time, with a considerable learning curve involved. Ask your vet about her professional experience with the laser and how many procedures she has done. If it's a relatively low number, perhaps you should seek a more experienced vet for this surgery.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.